Saturday, September 11, 2021
Sunday, August 29, 2021
Wow! What a difference a year-and-a-half can make! Biden To Nominate Antony Blinken For Secretary Of State, NPR November 23, 2020. Blinken was going to “repair relationships between Washington and foreign governments and allies that have been strained under President Trump's 'America First" policy?! And serve as a confirmable alternative to Susan Rice, she of the Benghazi disaster in 2012?! And boost morale at the State Department that had been left "beleaguered" by the prior administration!?
Considered while the biggest foreign policy debacle in American history continues to unfold in Afghanistan, the advance notices Blinken received from Beltway insiders and the media are as breathtakingly naïve as Blinken himself has proven himself to be. The fact that Blinken has not resigned yet is a tribute both to his own personal cluelessness--- and to the arrogance borne of the blind credentialism that put him in a place to do so much ruinous damage to the country---especially our international partners. Blinken needs to go.
President-elect Joe Biden will nominate Antony Blinken for the coveted secretary of state post.
Blinken,58, has extensive foreign policy experience, serving as deputy secretary of state and deputy national security adviser under President Barack Obama.
…If confirmed, Blinken's early work, , would be focused heavily on repairing relationships between Washington and foreign governments and allies that have been strained under President Trump's "America First" policy, in which long-held alliances have frequently been challenged.
Blinken will also be tasked with boosting the beleaguered State Department, an agency that has experienced substantial turnover under Trump, with many longtime diplomats and career staffers leaving.
Saturday, August 28, 2021
Tony Blinken was practically Joe Biden’s “alter ego,” wrote the Financial Times in early 2020, describing his central role in what has come to be known as America’s “return” to the world stage. The FT profile was as revelatory of Blinken’s cosmopolitan mindset, which would come a cropper in Kabul, as it was just dead wrong in its assessments of Blinken’s alleged strengths as a diplomat and leader. “The foreign affairs veteran is son and nephew of US ambassadors to European capitals,” the FT writes, “and his return to the corridors of power comes as the US tries to recover from the battering it has taken on the world stage during 4 years of Donald Trump.”
Biden’s ‘alter ego’ Antony Blinken will try to rebuild alliances, by Demetri Sevastopulo, November 23, 2020:
When Joe Biden enters office in January, his closest foreign policy adviser will be a guitar- playing Beatles fanatic who first started promoting American values as a high school student in Paris during the cold war.
On Monday, the president-elect said he had chosen Antony Blinken as secretary of state, elevating a three-decade fixture in Democratic foreign policy circles, who first worked with Mr Biden in the Senate.
A former speech writer for President Bill Clinton, Mr Blinken was national security adviser to Mr Biden when he was vice-president, before becoming deputy national security adviser to Barack Obama and deputy secretary of state.
Mr Blinken’s return to the corridors of power will come as the US tries to recover from the battering it has taken on the world stage during four years of Donald Trump’s international isolationism.
Although some of the challenges will be familiar to Mr Blinken, he will also face new dilemmas such as dealing with an even more assertive China.
Robert Malley, the head of International Crisis Group who was Mr Blinken’s high-school classmate, said the Washington veteran had the perfect background to restore American credibility.
In addition to coming from a family with foreign policy pedigree — his father served as ambassador to Hungary and his uncle to Belgium — allies say he can put himself in the shoes of others because of his experience overseas.
“Tony was an American in Paris — and both terms are key. He was very conscious of being an American and he believed in US values. But he also understood how US policy affects the rest of the world because he lived overseas and witnessed how others view America,” Mr Malley said.
“At that time, the US was not particularly popular in Europe, and in France in particular. Tony navigated those two universes.”
In a recent Intelligence Matters podcast, Mr Blinken said the US had to rebuild alliances to tackle the “democratic recession” enabled by Mr Trump that let “autocracies from Russia to China . . . exploit our difficulties”.
Mr Blinken is a pragmatic realist who believes in US power but understands its limits. He will also have the most valuable currency in Washington — the ear of the president. He is so close to Mr Biden that some see him as his “alter ego”.
Nick Burns, the former number three state department official who has known Mr Blinken since the Clinton administration, said his network of friends around the world is coupled with an incredible range of experience from his time in the Senate, state department, and White House.
“He was at the table for all of the important meetings in the Obama administration for eight years and has unique insight into the full range of national security issues,” said Mr Burns.
A soccer-playing 58-year-old, who has uploaded two of his songs on Spotify and sometimes has a guitar in the background during video calls, is widely liked for his unassuming manner and inclusive approach.
In his high-school yearbook, the page with his photograph is inscribed with the Pink Floyd lyrics, “just another brick in the wall”, hinting at his willingness to eschew the traditional rigid hierarchy of Washington.
A former top state department official said he was popular because he valued opinions regardless of how junior or senior the person was, and was confident enough to credit others. “It’s never about him or his ego.”
But some say his inclusive style meant his core beliefs were sometimes hard to ascertain. “I don’t have a good read on his foreign policy thinking because he did not impose himself,” says a former Biden Senate aide.
One former Obama administration official said he also had a tendency to hold too many meetings and punt decisions. “As the big dog, will he drive towards decisions or needle issues to death?” they asked.
Defenders said he simply wanted to avoid rushing into bad decisions. The former Senate aide added that he was good at ending meetings on time. “When someone tried to extend a meeting with extraneous comments, he would give them a yellow card. If you did it again . . . it was a red card.”
While some found his views opaque, others stress that he has long been clear about the importance of promoting democracy and human rights in American foreign policy.
He advocated military action against Syria after the Assad regime used chemical weapons in 2013 — a path that Mr Obama did not follow — and applauded Mr Trump for striking Syria after the regime used sarin gas on citizens in 2017.
Michael McFaul, a former US ambassador to Russia, said Mr Blinken and other Democrats created a group called the “Phoenix Initiative” to debate whether the party needed a more robust national security approach after John Kerry lost to George W Bush in the 2004 election.
He said that when the group held debates, Mr Blinken was also a strong proponent of using US power for good and advocating for human rights. “I was very struck that he was passionate about that,” he said.
Philip Gordon, a former Obama administration official, said that view was informed by his family history. His Polish-born stepfather Samuel Pisar survived Auschwitz and eventually wound up in the US, where he became a successful international lawyer, while other relatives entered the US as refugees.
“That has left him believing that the US can and should do good in the world,” said Mr Gordon. “But I would pair that with the notion that he is a real pragmatist who also understands the limits of American power. He is anything but an ideologue.”
The other former Obama official said Mr Blinken would probably take a tougher stance on human rights than the Obama White House. “Tony would be visibly tougher on Russia and more receptive to the idea of ideological competition with China, cranking up a few notches the democracy promotion and human rights dimension of foreign policy.”
Mr McFaul said Mr Blinken was also more decisive than some believe. When he argued that Mr Biden should meet Russian opposition figures after a meeting with President Vladimir Putin in Moscow in 2011, “it took Tony about three seconds to say that is a really good idea”, in contrast to a much harder sell with the Obama team in 2009.
Mr Blinken’s views on alliances and promoting democratic values fit with a growing view in Washington that the US needs to work more closely with allies to gain greater leverage to tackle China.
One former European official, who has worked with Mr Blinken, said the fluent French speaker would be well received in Europe and would help repair the damage done over the past four years. But he said he would do so in a more low-key and more collegiate way than some predecessors.
“He’s not a man to make the front page,” he said. “He’s not Henry Kissinger, in a good and bad way.”
Friday, August 27, 2021
Kabul Catastrophe Is What Happens When Dems Rig An Election and The Media Pretends Not To Notice That Its Candidate Is Senile
At yesterday’s White House press conference, Biden buried his head in his hands, looked close to tears and was completely unable to make whatever his point was, writes David Marcus in the Canadian Post-Millennial. “There has never been an image of an American president that projects such abject weakness,” Marcus notes. "We do not have a president. We have a crumbling old man. OK. Now what?”
After wrapping up his rambling remarks about a terrorist attack that killed US Marines on Thursday, President Biden moved on to questions. He informed the American people, whom he was addressing, that he had been "instructed" as to who should get the first question.
Who exactly was instructing the President of the United States? What other instructions does he obey? Did the American people elect a president? Or is Joe Biden just an old, sleepy eyed talking head? On Thursday, Americans got our answer.
The last question taken by Biden, we can only assume as a result of instruction, was granted to Fox News' Peter Doocy. Doocy asked Biden if he bears responsibility for the American lives lost in the terror attack. The President proceeded to engage in a bizarre back and forth with the reporter.
Then Biden buried his head in his hands, he looked close to tears, completely unable to make whatever his point was. There has never been an image of an American president that projects such abject weakness.
The United States effectively has no president. That must be distinctly understood at this point. He admitted this. Asked by Phillip Wegmann, White House correspondent for Real Clear Politics, if he had made the call to close American airbases before evacuation occurred, Biden said that it was what his military advisers told him to do.
The only decision Biden makes these days is what flavor ice cream he wants. Maybe.
Sen. Josh Hawley has called on Biden to resign in the wake of his administration's Afghan withdrawal disaster. It's a reasonable call, but also pointless. Joe Biden no more leads the nation than George Washington or Abe Lincoln do. He's a presidential portrait painted before its time. Nothing more.
But the country does need resignations. Not Biden's but resignations of cabinet secretaries, the well-credentialed fools who truly authored the administration's idiocy. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken must resign. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin must resign. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan must resign. But that's not enough.
Once they resign, moderate, serious minded Democrat senators must join Republicans in only confirming replacements that will reverse the horrendous foreign and national defense policies that have humiliated America on the world stage. Biden is president for three more years, Congress must act to ensure that the people instructing him are competent.
This is an emergency, and it is one we have never experienced before. The image of Joe Biden bowing his head in quiet, sad frustration is alarming. If there is a silver lining to this sad display it is that maybe Congress will act to take back control of our foreign policy. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy has called for the House to come back in session to get control of this situation. Of course, he is correct.
The Biden presidency is over, but it never really began. Clearly his cabinet is in control. Clearly they have been in control since day one. That cabinet decided to trust the Taliban to protect Americans. They are relying on terrorists who blow themselves up to act in their own self-interest. It is a macabre comedy. Those who hold Biden's strings must go, and they must go now.
All of this is much bigger than Afghanistan, as big as this humiliation is. This is the national security apparatus that is responsible for policies on Iran, North Korea, China, Ukraine, Yemen, everywhere. They blatantly cannot be trusted to protect American interests. That's not a hypothetical anymore. It's a tragedy.
Joe Biden, the 46th president, elected to bring back norms is irrelevant. Utterly, completely irrelevant. But we have him for three more years anyway. With loud, piercing, clarion calls we must demand the removal of his handlers, let congress replace them, and let us do better in the election of 2024. We do not have a president. We have a crumbling old man. OK. Now what?
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
NYT: U.S. Says 1,500 Americans Remain in Afghanistan as Evacuation Enters Final Days
Amazing what a difference a year can make, at least if there’s a Democrat in power. Alternative hedline could be: Annals of Systemic Racism We Just Can’t Talk About. As the Times put it: “The State Department is frantically trying to track down U.S. citizens. Tens of thousands of Afghan allies will all but certainly be left behind.”
WASHINGTON — At least 1,500 American citizens remain in Afghanistan with just days left before the scheduled U.S. withdrawal from the country, but officials on Wednesday acknowledged the reality that tens of thousands of Afghan allies and others at high risk of Taliban reprisals would be left behind.
The sound of gunfire, and clouds of tear gas and black smoke, filled the air around the international airport in Kabul, the capital, as thousands of Afghans massed at the gates on Wednesday, desperate to escape ahead of the American military’s final departure on Aug. 31, after 20 years of war.
As military and government charter flights took off every 45 minutes as part of an airlift, Biden administration officials said they had evacuated about 82,300 people since Aug. 14, the day before Kabul fell to the Taliban. Around 4,500 of them were American citizens, with 500 more expected to depart soon.
But Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken said the government was trying to track down around 1,000 American citizens still believed to be in Afghanistan who had not responded to a frantic flurry of emails, phone calls or other messages offering to evacuate them.
Al Qaeda is more than a remnant in Afghanistan, writes Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen, highlighting the disconnection from reality that Joe Biden seems to share with Saddam Hussein’s Minister of Media & Foreign Affairs Muhammed Saeed al-Sahhaf, aka “Baghdad Bob.” In fact Al Qaeda was pivotal in the Taliban’s blitz. The result is that “Biden has handed the global jihadist movement a new radical Islamic emirate in Afghanistan to replace it.”
Remember “Baghdad Bob,” the Iraqi information minister who, as U.S. forces entered the capital, insisted that there were no Americans in Baghdad? That’s what President Biden is beginning to sound like with his delusional insistence that no Americans were having trouble getting to the Kabul airport, no allies were calling into question the United States’ credibility, and that the United States had no interest in Afghanistan because al-Qaeda was “gone.”
Really? If that last claim were true, then how did the Afghan military manage to kill al-Qaeda’s second-in-command, Abu Muhsin al-Masri, in Afghanistan’s Ghazni province last October? Al-Masri was on theFBI’s most wanted list for conspiracy to kill Americans. If al-Qaeda poses no threat to the United States in Afghanistan, as Biden claims, what was a senior al-Qaeda leader focused on external operations doing there? And why is Sirajuddin Haqqani, an al-Qaeda-linked U.S.-designated terrorist with a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture, serving as the Taliban’s second-in-command? His network was recently placed in charge of security in Kabul. The fact is al-Qaeda is not only present in Afghanistan, but deeply embedded within the Taliban. According to the New Yorker’s Robin Wright, there are actually more al-Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan now than there were before 9/11, and al-Qaeda “was pivotal in the Taliban’s sweep across Afghanistan.”
Yet on Fox News Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken dismissed al-Qaeda’s Afghan presence as nothing more than “remnants” posing no serious danger to the homeland. It’s not the first time he’s minimized a terrorist threat, only to be proved disastrously wrong. In December 2011, there were only about 700 Islamic State “remnants” in Iraq when Biden presided over the disastrous U.S. withdrawal there — but by 2014, a CIA analysis found that the Islamic State had grown to as many as 31,500 fighters. Yet Blinken — who was then serving as deputy national security adviser — continued to underestimate the danger these terrorists posed. In an August 2014 interview, he insisted that the Islamic State’s “focus is not on attacking the U.S. homeland or attacking our interests here in the United States or abroad. It’s focused intently on trying to create a caliphate now in Iraq.”
Soon after he spoke those words, the Islamic State and those inspired by it launched a wave of attacks on the West — including January 2015 attacks on the Charlie Hebdo magazine offices and a Jewish deli in Paris; November 2015 attacks on a night club, soccer stadium and restaurants in Paris that killed 130 people; March 2016 bombings of the Brussels airport and subway station; and a July 2016 attack in Nice in which an Islamic State terrorist drove a truck into crowds celebrating Bastille Day, killing 84 people. According to CNN, by July 2016, the Islamic State had carried out 143 attacks in 29 countries that killed more than 2,000 people. It was only after the group began to attack the West that the Obama administration finally sent U.S. forces back to Iraq to deal with the debacle it created.
Now, Biden and Blinken are underestimating the terrorist threat once again. But this time, the disaster they created in Afghanistan will be far more difficult to clean up. In Iraq, we left behind a friendly government and bases to which U.S. forces could return to from which to take on the terrorists. In Afghanistan, the Taliban is in full control, and we have no bases to which we can return when the terrorist danger inevitably reemerges.
Other terrorist hotspots — such as Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Somalia — have coastlines that allow us to project power from the sea. But Afghanistan is a landlocked country, surrounded by hostile states. The only viable routes in are over either Iranian or Pakistani airspace. We face not only a challenge of distance, but of topography — as the forbidding Hindu Kush mountains provide the perfect cover for terrorists. “We’re talking about the problem of finding terrorist needles in 15,000-foot haystacks, which was hard to do even when we had troops in country,” explains Fred Kagan, director of the American Enterprise Institute’s Critical Threats Project. Even if we somehow manage to obtain intelligence on an al-Qaeda target and overflight permission, we’ll have to hope and pray that the target will still be there by the time our planes take off from bases in the Persian Gulf or a distant aircraft carrier. And without nearby bases, we have limited capability to extract American pilots if a mission goes wrong.
In other words, Biden’s claim that we have an “over the horizon” capability to combat an al-Qaeda resurgence is a joke. It took more than seven years for the United States to drive the Islamic State from the caliphate Biden handed them in 2011. Now, Biden has handed the global jihadist movement a new radical Islamic emirate in Afghanistan to replace it.
Tuesday, August 24, 2021
Tens of thousands of Afghans awaiting U.S. visas and thousands of American citizens are still stuck in Kabul, unable to find safe passage through frantic crowds, Taliban checkpoints and Afghan guards stationed outside the airport.
Gunfire erupted outside of the north gate of Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday, killing a number of Afghan security forces. American officials have repeatedly had to close the gates for extended periods, leading guards to turn away even U.S. passport holders.
Multiple sources point to deteriorating conditions inside the airport, including lack of power and sanitation. And tension has emerged between American troops on the ground and State Department officials trying to extract U.S. citizens and Afghan allies.
Meanwhile, the West Wing is looking increasingly disconnected from reality as the Biden White House strives to project a sense of calm competence — even as the Taliban tighten their grip on Afghanistan.
“We are actually overperforming in terms of the evacuation numbers,” national security adviser Jake Sullivan told reporters on Monday of the massive evacuation effort underway at Kabul airport to extract thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Afghan allies from the city.
“If you look at what we're doing now and taking — evacuating thousands of people every day, it really has been a tremendous piece of work,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.
While the evacuation has significantly ramped up in recent days, the reality on the ground belies the narrative that the situation is under control. The scenes around Kabul airport have been marked by violence, disorganization, bureaucratic in-fighting and delays, according to video and text exchanges viewed by POLITICO.
The result is an administration that appears increasingly out of touch, as reports from Kabul continue to reflect a chaotic evacuation.
“I don’t think the president’s rhetoric matches the conditions on the ground,” said Jenna Ben-Yehuda, a 12-year veteran of the Bush and Obama State Department and president of the Truman Center, which is coordinating with other groups to try to evacuate Afghan allies.
“They keep saying this was inevitable, but there absolutely was a way to avoid this — if that’s not the definition of gaslighting I don’t what is,” said Chris Purdy, the project manager of the Veterans for American Ideals program at Human Rights First, which has been part of the coalition to help evacuate people from Afghanistan.