JFC, these DC journalists and their emo takes. Josh Marshall’s post yesterday about DC Press Bigs getting to “Peak Screech” (paywall) gets it right. All of a sudden a bunch of journalists who are almost always wrong get space for their lava-hot takes about the future of America’s position in the world. I especially like the “both parties failed” headline from perennial wrong person Matt Bai. I hope George W. Bush sends him a painting for that one.
As I was paging through my morning read of the Washington Post, story after story about Afghanistan came up. Yet, a month ago, or even a year ago, these same people who are all lit up over leaving weren’t pounding out emo takes about the Potemkin-like nature of our Afghan allies, who we supported with billions of dollars of aid. I guess Biden’s presidency, U.S. foreign policy, and the history of the world as we know it didn’t “hinge” on whether or not we were funneling dollars into a completely corrupt regime.
Edit: Forgot to add this:
I think I’ve spotted the source of your problem, as the doctor said to the patient with the arrow through his head….
What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?
Honestly we should just establish a special “tax the foreign policy establishment and any journalist who thinks we should have stayed into penury to pay for the war” bill. If they’re so set on staying forever they can shell out the billions it takes. Also, they and their sons and daughters can train up, gear up, and be the front line American forces stationed there.
I mean these are the same OMG teh Deficit will kill us all ! concern trolls but they act like staying for another decade is basically cost free. Well, it ain’t cost free so pony up extra or shut up.
I certainly hope the skycap got a good tip for that one.
Interestingly, the Post seems to be the least hysterical. CNN, on the other hand, is really over-the-top with the hot takes and shrieking. Has Chris Cillizza weighed in yet, sputtering about how this is the end of Biden’s presidency?
As you point out, these people are reliably wrong—although I have to highlight Jennifer Rubin, again, as the one person who seems to actually understand ANYTHING. I can’t believe I’m saying that, but good lord—when did she grow brain? Her regular smackdowns of her colleagues (and of course Republicans) are great.
Anyway, as predicted by a lot of people, I don’t think Afghanistan will be an issue in 2022. Americans have wanted to leave for years, and the polling shows it. Cillizza, Tapper, ChuckToddler, and the rest can go have their hissy fits all they want—it’s just for ratings anyway, and as soon as there’s something else to chase after, they’ll drop the issue.
I don’t agree with/read Atrios Johnson on very much these days, but he’s 100% accurate when he says the media is objectively pro-war.
Exactly. It annoys me to no end that journalists/pundits are NOW talking about the Potemkin nature of the Afghan army and government as if everyone knew that. And yet these same journalists/pundits didn’t bother to write about that information. It’s like the DC journalists who stockpile scoops for their future book rather than reporting the information at a point in time when it would be actionable.
Any word on where he is retiring to?
Their sources at DOS and the Pentagon are in full-on, Code Red CYA mode over this, so that’s what makes it into the reporting.
Sports journalist Bob Ryan used to describe famed homer Celtic announcer Johnny Most’s outrage voices as Voice one, Voice two, and Dog Whistle (no racist connotation like currently) as he climbed the octave scale.
Four Seasons Total Landscaping mistermix
Jake Tapper’s twitter feed is very emo tween right now.
Why, it’s as if there was a military industrial complex or something. Or this year’s version of the Jimmy Carter treatment
@VOR: They write that and all their sources instantly dry up. They’ve been taught since at least the Cheney Administration to be good stenographers or else.
Oh yes. There is a long screed somewhere about Biden and the “crisis of competence.”
A good chunk of the press and pundit corps are busy weaving fantasies about an Afghanistan that never existed and blaming Biden for his inability to perform miracles.
In hundreds, that would weigh 3725+ lbs.
I hope he landed in a place where no one can break a hundred dollar bill.
I mean — that’s a lotta sacks of cash, even if it was all in c-notes.
But I am sure that if Joe Biden had only Stayed The Course for another Six Months then this sterling Public Servant of Unimpeachable Integritude would have created a New Beacon of Democracy in the Middle East.
But he didn’t. Even. Try!
@What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us?: Exactly! At every press conference, Jen Psaki should ask every reporter that wants to stay how many of their kids are they willing to commit to fight. Same goes for every politician that’s spouting the same crap. It’s time for them to send their kids if they are so happy for gunplay with the Taliban.
@Spanky: Yes, MisterMix has some great lines and that’s a top notch one.
People talk about the 20 yrs, I get that, because that is how long we had troops there. I sided with Rep Lee against AUMF for whatever it’s worth. But I hope Reaganism gets some of its share of the blame. We were sending money to help recruit dangerous loons like Bin Laden and give them more of a following more than 20 yrs ago.
The pundits? Can’t we cancel some of them, if evil liberals are so powerful with cancel powers???
Jim, Foolish Literalist
MSNBC has been unlistenable– I usually listen rather than watch these days– with the exception of Laurence O’Donnell, about whom I am usually a bit ambivalent. He’s the only host that I can tell who hasn’t given his entire show over to emo lamentations. He’s actually still talking about Covid and voting rights.
Driving around yesterday I caught Nicolle Wallace reading a statement from Seth Moulton saying when he was in AFG he could never explain to “my Marines” (I don’t know what his rank was, how many people he had under him) what they were doing there; then when she brought Moulton on, her first question was: “How are you? How are you feeling?”. Pretty much the same question in her next segment to a woman who heads a veterans’ group. She feels betrayed.
Even the foreign policy O’Bros– Tommy Vietor and Ben Rhodes– introduced Pod Save the World today by talking about how the failures of the AFG government are failures of our policy. I can’t take any more of the hair shirts.
@Spanky: it was a nice one, in fact.
@Brachiator: ferdinand marcos’s former villa in hawai’i?
@Spanky: I’m sure there’s a Trump Tower somewhere waiting for that cash.
@Four Seasons Total Landscaping mistermix: why’d he have to go & make things so complicated?
@stacib: No offense, but I really don’t like this framing that [adult] children are their parents property.
The way to respond to taunting from the press is to let the professional press people handle it. Biden’s job isn’t to satisfy screechy pundits and reporters who are using strawmen and bad faith arguments to try to get eyeballs and clicks.
Biden did a great job at explaining himself in the address a couple of days ago. He’ll do fine answering questions, in ways that further the administration’s goals and further US national interests. That’s his job.
Nobody’s going to remember Doocy and Cilizza and the rest of the screechers. They’ll remember Biden.
I’m sure trump had a well-conceived plan for an orderly withdrawal on May 1st.
Does anybody know any details on trump’s negotiation with Pakistan for the release of the guy who is slated to be the new president of Afghanistan and 500 other Taliban?
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: They were “his” Marines:
@Jager: This CFR story might be a good place to start.
(via the CFR Afghanistan Timeline)
HTH a little.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@raven: not disputing it, I didn’t want to use that phrase, being unfamiliar with the culture, that’s why I quoted him. My objection was to Wallace’s framing of the question.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist: Yea, I just figured it was worth exploring.
@VOR: The logical disconnect on this is a sight to behold. If the afghani army and government is a potemkin village and completely worthless, DOESN’T THAT PROVE THE POINT THAT WE NEEDED TO GET OUT OF THERE ASAP?!?!?! What point are they trying to make other than throwing spaghetti against a wall to see if it will stick?
Oh, and Perlstein is exactly right: There was a way have a perfectly safe and orderly withdrawal…negotiate the terms of our surrender with the taliban. But we could never do that. No retreat from an active war zone is ever going to be orderly and peaceful.
I haven’t watched a single moment of TV news since this began and have read almost no commentary. I am depending on Balloon Juice for information. Perhaps this episode of journalistic stupidity will wean me of my compulsive news reading/watching. I am much happier.
From John Cole’s twitter. Click the link. The picture is a genius political “cartoon” (not a true cartoon, since some of it is a picture, but very similar).
Circling back to point out that the story of the $169M in cash has a high probability of being bullshit, simply because of the logistics involved.
@raven: Seth Moulton said that after he left the service he had nightmares about Iraq. One recurring dream was a about an actual event, when his vehicle patrol came upon an injured Iraqi teen lying in the road. Moulton ordered his Marines to drive around the boy and keep moving. It was almost certainly a setup for an ambush.
@Brachiator: UAE apparently.
@ssdd: “Pardon me boy, is that the Abu Dhabi flew-flew?”
“Flight 29. Leavin’ on time.”
@Zelma: Same here.
Just One More Canuck
@Brachiator: Mar a Lago
@Geminid: Probably the best decision.
I’m calling BS on Biden’s actions being a “disaster”. So far we have had NO American deaths in this “disaster”, and five Afghan deaths in a stampede at the airport, which was supposed to be under Afghan control anyway. Thousands are already being evacuated, including many Afghans. The Taliban are not interfering, which means Biden has successfully reached an agreement with them.
Not only would nobody likely have been able to do better, Biden has done an excellent job with what he had to work with.
If you want a real disaster, look at 150 Americans dying unnecessarily every day because DeSantis wants to pump up the Regeneron investment of his biggest donor.
I’m worried the media narrative of about “how Biden lost Afghanistan” will take hold like “Hillary’s e-mail server” and “Hillary’s stand down order in Benghazi” or “Clinton’s corrupt dealings in Whitewater”, or “ACA death panels”, etc.
Repeat something negative enough times and it starts to take hold in people’s minds.
Biden’s still popular, but this narrative that he could’ve somehow prevented what happened is worrisome. The headlines I’ve skimmed are all about chaos and confusion and somehow that could’ve been avoided.
OTOH, maybe Ghani did us a solid:
I’m worried about that too.
@Fair Economist: The Taliban want foreign recognition and foreign aid. Cooperating with a safe evacuation of foreign nationals and their Afghan assistants furthers these goals.
I read that Afghanistan’s annual per capita GDP is less than $800. Foreign governments and NGOs may be more willing to help Afghans out if they believe the money won’t be stolen.
@zhena gogolia: I’m not. First of all, both the media and a lot of the public were preconditioned to hate the Clintons and those stories feel into that environment. On the ACA, there was, again, a fertile landscape, prepared for years, which was predisposed to be fearful of anything that could be interpreted as socialized medicine.
Biden is well liked, even by people who disagree with him. And most Americans are war weary.
@Spanky: Yeah, it’s not smart to take initial reports on breaking news as gospel. Especially from events halfway around the world. Putin and others have an obvious interest in making the previous US-backed government look as over-the-top corrupt as possible.
It would have been malpractice for the US and the government there not to be thinking about what happens to financial assets and all the rest as soon as Biden took office (and honestly before – as soon as TFG’s people announced their May 1 deadline).
I thought it was interesting that the initial reports were that he fled to Tajikistan with “4 cars and a helicopter so full of cash that some had to be left behind” but now it’s being reported that he’s in the UAE. Why not go there directly from Kabul??
We’ll “know” more in time, but what we “know” may be slanted then as well…
Mike in NC
DC Beltway pundits: we never heard of this George W. Bush person, and what did he ever have to do with Afghanistan?
@Another Scott: No offense taken. :-) My point being, they are so gung ho to send someone else’s kid to war, yet their own kids are somehow exempt from the conversation.
Wondering if any commentators mentioned reading James Michener’s long novel Caravans, about the adventures of a US diplomat in Kabul in the post-WWII years ?
Most of what I know about Afghanistan I learned from it
Yes, how many bags is that?
@JAFD: Caravans (1963) is great! I am a Michener fan, and this is one of my favorites. As you say, the novel is very educational, and the problems Michener described still afflict Afghans today.
Enhanced Voting Techniques
Trump did just that. That’s why the Afghan government was so ready to collapse. They knew it was over months ago. I would argue that’s why Biden overroad the objections to the Withdraw because by last February Afghanistan was passed the point of no return.
That’s not really the right question. The right question is: “How many more people did you want to see die?”
If we start with the premise, which is universally held by all experts on the region, that the Afghan regime and army were failed states, incapable of long-term rule. Then we wind up with the inevitable conclusion that it was eventually going to crumble. These folks seem to think that in order to preserve “US credibility” we should have gone out with a bang in some sort of bloody rear-guard action that would have killed thousands and left the country a ruined wreck. Instead of the virtually bloodless transition that actually happened.
So I would ask any of these sociopaths. How many more Afghans and Americans do you think should have died in order to preserve US credibility?
Enhanced Voting Techniques
Not to mention if we had “blew up all the forts” like Trump wanted would the Taliban be playing nice like they are and not just go back to being a terrorist haven out of sheer spite.
@gene108: A lot harder to the turn this into something benghazi/email server-esque like was done to Hillary, simply because Biden doesn’t occupy the same headspace with most of America. That stuck harder than it ever should have for a variety of reasons: a) right-wing BS machine predisposed to hate Hillary, b) DC intelligentsia who never missed an opportunity to take a swing at her, and c) 25+ years of Clinton related “scandals” (most made up, but all treated as fact from the start) just to name a few.
Biden doesn’t carry that baggage, which is real. (and I say that as someone who supported Hillary in 2016 from the jump)
but the other major issue is the war in Afghanistan is deeply unpopular across the US and is a known quantity. Benghazi was a new thing; you can shape opinion around that (even with a massive pack of lies). The email server was a new thing, but made Hillary look shady, something an unfortunately large number of people had been trained to presume was true.
What’s the narrative you use to hang Biden on this? “Incompetent Joe Biden lost us Afghanistan”? That will work for a little while with the legion of DC idiots…but most people wanted us done in Afghanistan year ago. there’s no proxy “war” to surround this with like with Vietnam over communism. Today is you asked people if we should have stayed to keep China/Russia out of the region they’d be like “let ’em have it.”
O’Donnell was good last night, IMHO.
@brendancalling: When Bush invaded Iraq one of the reasons he said privately was that he ‘wanted to be a wartime president’.
I think a lot of our pampered, elite journalists really just ‘want to be war reporters’.
@Zelma: I used to watch MSNBC almost all day, and never missed Nicolle Wallace. I haven’t watched hardly at all since May and I think my mental health is much better. I highly recommend stepping back, at least for a while.
@matt: I think you’re on to something. I’m still disgusted at how excited many of these pampered, elite journalists got when former guy bombed Syria.
And regarding Afghanistan, I’ll just say that if you’ve watched cable news for the last 20 years as I unfortunately have, 95% of the time you could forget there was still a war going on. They just didn’t spend much time on it. They love the adrenaline rush of going to war, but then they lose interest. Now these assholes are crying about Afghanistan? I’d love to know what they’ve been doing for the past 20 years to raise awareness or make things better.
It’s probably hard to fit that much cash in your carryon and two suitcases, and at least marginally easier to find a private jet in Dushanbe than Kabul these days.
But but ,think of poor Ghani and his excess baggage charges.
David ? ☘The Establishment☘? Koch
Jim, Foolish Literalist
@JAFD: Yes…someone mentioned it in the first Afghan thread…I guess I’m gonna have to look it up and get it…
Kind of a long drive … ferry’s alright I hear
Seriously, I read an account that the head of the Afghan bank managed to get himself on a flight … sort of magically. Considering what happened to the ousted president the last time Taliban took Kabul, Mr Ghani probably took steps to obscure his tracks.