Lindsey Graham Pines For His Two Great Loves, Forever War And Donald Trump
Can we all chip in to buy Lindsey Graham a calendar? Because the South Carolina senator appears to be having a bit of trouble with the concept of linear time. To wit, he seems to believe that Joe Biden was president in February 2020 when the US signed a no-strings-attached agreement with the Taliban to GTFO out of Afghanistan.
"If you had any doubt of how ill-advised the Biden Administration decision to withdraw from Afghanistan was, ALL DOUBT should now be removed by the lineup of thugs and butchers who now form the interim government of Afghanistan," he scream-tweeted yesterday, adding, "I will oppose any and all efforts by the Biden Administration to legitimize the Afghan Taliban as the government of Afghanistan."
In point of fact, President Biden didn't decide to leave Afghanistan. And he wasn't the one who started treating the Taliban as the Afghan government in waiting, inviting them to Camp David in 2019 to ink a "peace" deal on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks. That was Donald Trump, Senator Graham's North Star. His alpha and omega. Simultaneously the pole upon which he gyrates and the distracted customer tossing the odd, crumpled bill in his general direction.
And literally the only thing the Trump administration wanted from the Taliban was a promise not to give safe haven to Al Qaeda. Lindsey Graham can profess indignation about the return of Taliban hardliners and terrorists to the Afghanistan government — "If you're a radical Islamic sympathizer, this is the All-Star lineup. If you believe in human decency, particularly for women, it is a nightmare." — but we didn't give a shit about any of that 18 months ago when we inked the pull-out deal.
Here's the actual language from the agreement:
The United States and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban seek positive relations with each other and expect that the relations between the United States and the new post-settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations will be positive.
The United States will seek economic cooperation for reconstruction with the new post settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations, and will not intervene in its internal affairs.
That wasn't Joe Biden promising to be BFFs with the Taliban and look the other way as they banished women from the public square and outlawed music again. Trump even dangled the possibility of sanctions relief and reconstruction money if the Taliban could just pretty-please not murder any Americans during the 14 months it would take to get all our troops and contractors out of the country.
Which brings us to another bit of Graham bullshittery which took place Monday in an interview with BBC journalist Stephen Sackur.
According to Senator Pilot Fish, Al Qaeda and ISIS became entrenched in Afghanistan under Clinton and Obama. Again, he seems to have lost eight intervening years of the "W" administration, plus that whole 20 year stretch where we handed out arms to literally everyone in Afghanistan because, hey, they had to be better than the Soviets, right? Only a manly man like Donald Trump had the power to destroy the Caliphate by revamping our sissified military, Graham insisted, praising the military genius of a person who is out there blarping that he'd have blown up Bagram Air Base before withdrawing the troops.
"When he left, there were 2,500 US soldiers on the ground with NATO allies," Graham told the visibly skeptical Sackur. "They're no longer there."
Journalist Stephen Sackur is all of us right nowScreengrab BBC
It's a line that's been used by Sen. Mitch McConnell in an attempt to blame Biden for getting out of Afghanistan, a Trump policy which is broadly popular with Americans of every political party.
"With the continued deployment of 2,500 people, we were in effect keeping a lid on, keeping terrorists from reconstituting and having a light footprint in the country," the Senate minority leader said. "The policy was working."
Which is true, as far as it goes. But that's not very far, because starting the clock in January of 2020, almost a year after Trump had begun withdrawing troops, is some olympic-level salami hiding. We weren't keeping a lid on terrorists with 2,500 troops — we'd given the Taliban a date certain for our exit, and they weren't about to delay our departure by conspicuously attacking American troops before we handed over the keys. They were still waging brutal attacks against Afghan government and civilian targets during that time, though.
And even when we had 9,000 troops on the ground and untold numbers of contractors, the Taliban controlled half the country by land mass. So it's only the most disingenuous sumbitches pretending that everything would have been just fine if Biden had reneged on the deal Trump made a year before and left a handful of American military personnel on the ground to keep a lid on things.
But Lindsey Graham wasn't finished talking, confidently predicting to Sackur that the US would be reinvading Afghanistan any day now.
"They're going to give safe haven to Al Qaeda, who has ambitions to drive us out of the Mideast writ large and attack us because of our way of life," Graham said. "We will be going back into Afghanistan as we went back into Iraq and Syria," adding that Afghanistan would become a "cauldron for radical Islamic behavior."
Looks like someone misses his Forever War. And also is rooting for the Taliban to start cozying up to Al Qaeda again so Republicans can blame Joe Biden for carrying out Trump's policy. What a true American patriot!
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.