The Secret of Statecraft That the Gipper Understood and Biden Fails To Grasp

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The Afghanistan catastrophe dominate the news, as it should. I want to make a few points at the outset, starting with the terrific op-ed in today’s Wall Street Journal by Vice President Pence. The headline is “Biden broke our deal with the Taliban.”

This is a key point. It is one that the press manages to overlook.

I first saw Secretary Pompeo talk about it on a Sunday news show and this past few days at a conference in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the former director of the National Security Council Robert O’Brien and I and former Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe spoke at length about President Biden breaking the strict conditions that were initially agreed to between the Trump administration and the Taliban.

When Joe Biden spoke to the country about this disaster on Monday, he played the blame game, like he always does. Of course, he blamed Mr. Trump. Then he blamed other administrations. Then he blamed Europe. And if he had time he undoubtedly would’ve blamed the man on the moon.

One group Biden forgot to blame, I’m sure it was just an oversight, is the Taliban. They are terrorists. They are to blame. In fact, many have forgotten the original mission in Afghanistan post 9/11 was to destroy the terrorists the Taliban harbored in that country who were crucial in the attack on America in 2001. That was the mission. It should remain the mission today.

The problem with this whole story is that the foreign policy liberals and globalists multilateralists turn this anti-terrorist mission into a nation-building mission. That kind of mission creep is dangerous. To some extent it is going to be one of the worst consequences of this foreign policy humiliation inflicted on the country by the Bidens.

You see, the Taliban terrorists will harbor groups like ISIS. And Al Qaeda. And who knows what other America-hating, crazy terrorist groups will be found in Afghanistan under the Taliban regime. Let’s not forget also that Joe Biden, who is always wrong about foreign policy (and a whole lot of other things as well), opposed President Obama’s mission to get Osama bin Laden.

Well, guess where we found and destroyed bin Laden? Pakistan. That country has been harboring terrorist groups for quite some time. They will continue to do so. The Pakistani prime minister, Imran Khan, cheered the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. This guy’s supposed to be an American ally, but he’s not. He offered Pakistani safe haven to the Taliban during this whole two decade period.

You can count on Pakistan to provide resources to the Taliban terrorists in the future. I’ll bet you Iran does the same. I don’t know about China and Russia. Surely they like the fact that America is a paper tiger once again, but those countries have no love for Islamic terrorist groups.

Maybe China will be emboldened in Taiwan. A clear risk. Maybe Russia in the Middle East and elsewhere for cyber-hacking. Another clear risk. We will see. The key point is that when the Taliban broke the Trump deal, the Biden administration should have immediately been all over them.

Just as soon as the Taliban started taking over provincial capitals, the Bidens should’ve launched massive airstrikes with spotters and other support on the ground to crush the terrorist takeover.

as Mr. Pence noted in his op-ed, “Taliban leaders understood that the consequences of violating the deal with Trump would be swift and severe.”

President Trump, after all, took out Soleimani. Mr. Trump crushed ISIS in Syria. He took out the ISIS leader. Mr. Trump bombed the Syrian airport. Mr. Trump drew red lines and never let anyone cross them. That’s the difference between Messrs. Trump and Biden.

The Taliban knew there was no credible threat of force with President Biden. In these delicate foreign matters, it is always better to be greatly feared than loved. To paraphrase Machiavelli.

Years ago, I worked for Ronald Reagan. His critics often labeled him a nuclear trigger happy cowboy from the west.

I always loved that, and I think the Gipper did, too — because that meant our adversaries feared him. Whether destroying the Soviet Union or destroying modern day terrorists, it is much better to be feared than loved.

That’s a lesson the Bidens don’t understand. They are engulfed in a paper tiger syndrome, and now America will pay dearly for this catastrophic mistake.


From Mr. Kudlow’s broadcast on Fox News.

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