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In a piece published Tuesday, Boot recalled how President John F. Kennedy issued a statement saying he “bears sole responsibility” for the Bay of Pigs blunder in 1961 and how he “strongly opposed to anyone within or without the administration attempting to shift the responsibility.”
“That is a lesson President Biden should take to heart in how to handle the continuing fallout of the disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, which seared into our collective memory horrifying images of desperate Afghans clinging to the landing gear of U.S. aircraft in a desperate bid to escape Taliban tyranny,” Boot wrote. “Even as more than 20 million Afghans stand on the brink of starvation, he continues to engage in unseemly buck-passing that only hurts his popularity and undermines his credibility.”
The columnist knocked Biden’s declaration in August calling the military withdrawal from Afghanistan an “extraordinary success” by focusing on the roughly 120,000 who were evacuated and not about the interpreters who were left behind.
“Biden blamed Afghan troops for not holding on ‘as long as anyone expected’ after they had been abandoned by their U.S. allies, but he claimed, despite all evidence to the contrary, that the administration was ‘ready’ when Kabul fell … The president’s unwillingness to grapple with his own failures contributed, I believe, to the precipitous decline in his popularity that began in August and has continued to the present day,” Boot told readers.
Boot enthusiastically supported Biden in 2020 and has frequently written about his disdain for the Republican Party he once backed.
Boot also pointed to remarks Biden gave last week to NBC’s Lester Holt, saying he was “rejecting” the testimony given by commanders about the military withdrawal.
“Biden can reject what the officers said, but their accounts… have the ring of truth, and it is insulting to the military to pretend otherwise,” Boot wrote. “Navy Rear Adm. Peter Vasely, the top U.S. commander on the ground during the August evacuation, told Army investigators that the military would have been ‘much better prepared to conduct a more orderly’ evacuation ‘if policymakers had paid attention to the indicators of what was happening on the ground.’ Marine Brig. Gen. Farrell J. Sullivan, who commanded the Marines at the airport, said, ‘In my opinion, the NSC [National Security Council] was not seriously planning for an evacuation,’ and that until early August it was ‘like pulling teeth’ to get the U.S. Embassy to discuss the subject.”
Boot suggested Biden’s numbers would improve if he rethought his “Trump-like attempt to dodge responsibility” for the worst “fiasco” thus far in his presidency.