In a Nutshell: Extreme Incompetence

By Ken Herman

"Some optimists may look at the economic impact of this long-running conflict (which cost the U.S. taxpayer an estimated $2.26T), others may see very concerning incompetence."

Taliban fighters easily took over the presidential palace in Kabul recently, after a stunning blitz across Afghanistan that saw them seize most of the country in just over a month.  Afghan President Ashraf Ghani also fled abroad with what has been reported to be “a helicopter full of cash and expensive automobiles”.  He and others left that country’s government in collapse, while demoralized Afghan security forces offered little or no resistance.  The lightning Taliban sweep comes after the loss of nearly 2,500 American lives (not considering the loss of 150,000 Afghan lives) trying to ensure that country would not become a permanent terrorist haven.  Attempting to refashion that nation into a pro-Western democracy or even a stable middle-eastern country now looks like a huge waste of both money and lives.

Toward the end of his presidency Donald Trump announced that U.S. troops should leave Afghanistan by 2021 provided the Taliban met the terms of a peace accord signed the previous year.  President Biden went along with some of the Trump plan, announcing in April that all U.S. forces would leave Afghanistan by Sept. 11th.  However, the Biden administration also decided to drastically reduce American military presence before a transition could be accomplished, as well as not maintaining Trump’s threats of serious military consequences if the Taliban interfered with a gradual withdrawal of American troops or workers who had been assisting the Afghan government.  

The Biden administration’s botched withdrawal plan prompted the Taliban to launch an offensive to regain much of the country.  Within a month the Taliban took control of 73 districts of 421 nationwide.  By August those terrorists controlled 222 of the districts.  Most significantly the Taliban essentially conquered the largest cities and strongholds over just the past few weeks.

“We’ve seen that force [Afghan military] has been unable to defend the country, and that has happened more quickly than we anticipated,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken told CNN’s State of the Union. “This is manifestly not Saigon,” he added. “We went to Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission, and that mission was to deal with the folks who attacked us on 9/11. And we succeeded in that mission.”  Obviously if that had been the only mission the USA would not have continued to support and defend that country for 20 years prior to the recent collapse. 

Military conflict or attacks generally don’t have much impact on stocks, and even if they do, the sentiment is usually short-lived.  Hopefully this turns out to be the case here.  But this lower priority military activity lasted two decades, while the pullout was highly publicized and extremely poorly handled!  Some optimists may look at the economic impact of this long-running conflict (which cost the U.S. taxpayer an estimated $2.26T), others may see very concerning incompetence.

While many are avoiding the obvious, weighing in over whether America’s longest war was worth it, that appears to be political cover for the ugliness involved in how this withdrawal was mismanaged.  Any truthful history will not reflect well on the Biden administration’s pace and plan of withdrawal or potential impact on future terrorist threats.  That debate will likely continue for some time.  One thing is certain though, the world is now a much more dangerous place.

The frail Biden Administration and the Fed are also feeling inflation heat, including prices at the pump. USA inflation has set four consecutive record highs through July! April inflation was up 6.2% on an annual basis. May’s inflation increase was 6.6%.  In June another record jump was recorded at 7.3%.  And in July inflation for the year was calculated to be 7.8%!

Cynics (like myself) are wondering why the Biden Administration is now calling for OPEC to boost production not long after President Biden imposed a drilling ban on federal land and the cancelling of the energy supply beneficial Keystone Pipeline.

Although several states sued to overturn Biden’s drilling ban, and a federal judge subsequently ruled the ban was illegal, domestic crude oil production remains approximately two million barrels a day below where it was under President Trump.  The Wall Street Journal editorialized last Wednesday that “Someone should ask Mr. Biden, on his next stop for ice cream, why the President thinks oil produced by foreign dictators in Russia, Iran or Saudi Arabia is more desirable than oil drilled by American entrepreneurs”!

Let’s face the facts here: This President inherited a recovering economy, non-reliance on foreign oil production, several Covid vaccines, a potentially peaceful agreement with the Taliban for exiting Afghanistan, and a stable Mexican border – all of which have been botched by him (and/or his handlers).  Biden’s bumbling actions and comments do not provide confidence for the American people or the free world.  Unfortunately, this President remains weak, confused, incoherent and lacks a cohesively positive direction.  His weakness has humiliated America and created multiple disasters.