Directly contradicting President Joe Biden, top military officials testified Tuesday that they advised him against pulling all US troops from Afghanistan. That makes his repeated insistence that he never got any such advice the most shameless of his many tall tales about the fiasco.
It also means the whole disaster — including the thousands of Americans and allies left behind, as well as the bombing that killed 13 US service members — is entirely on him.
Biden’s made the now-debunked claim several times, including on ABC last month: George Stephanopoulos noted, “Your top military advisers warned against withdrawing on this timeline. They wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops.”
“No, they didn’t,” Biden responded. “That wasn’t true.” He denied it twice more: “No one said [it] to me that I can recall.”
The president is lying — or senile. Because all three men testifying Tuesday to the Senate Armed Services Committee said they’d said just that to him.
“I recommended that we maintain 2,500 troops in Afghanistan,” Central Command chief Gen. Frank McKenzie stated. He thought “the withdrawal of those forces would lead inevitably to the collapse of the Afghan military forces and eventually the Afghan government.”
Joint Chiefs of Staff head Gen. Mark Milley said he’d warned that Biden’s withdrawal would damage American credibility and “precipitate a general collapse” of the Afghan military and government, “resulting in a complete Taliban takeover or general civil war.”
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed that the advice was “received by the president and considered by the president” before his April announcement of a full withdrawal by Sept. 11.
A “lot of intelligence,” Milley also noted, “clearly indicated that after we withdrew, that it was a likely outcome of a collapse of the military and collapse of the government.” The question wasn’t if it would happen but how fast.
McKenzie reportedly assessed in early August that the Taliban would surround Kabul within a month or two, with the country falling within weeks. In fact, the Taliban took Kabul a week after that analysis was delivered Aug. 8.
The president owes the nation an explanation.