Thursday's suicide bombings in Kabul, which claimed the lives of at least 13 American servicemen, marked the deadliest day for U.S. troops in Afghanistan since 2011. President Joe Biden's low energy press conference in response to the attacks was widely panned for failing to inspire confidence as the situation spirals out of control.
It wasn't supposed to be this way. During the 2020 Democratic primary, Biden touted himself as the only candidate with the experience necessary to successfully handle an international crisis. "To be commander in chief, there's no time for on-the-job training," he said during a primary debate in November 2019. "I've spent more time in the Situation Room, more time abroad, more time than anybody up here. I know every major world leader. They know me, and they know when I speak, if I'm the president of the United States, who we're for, who we're against, and what we'll do, and we'll keep our word."
Former president Barack Obama tried to warn us. He urged Biden not to run for president in 2016, reportedly out of concern that his former running mate "would embarrass himself on the campaign trail and that the people around him would not be able to prevent a belly-flop." Obama did not mince words during the primary campaign, telling one fellow Democrat: "Don't underestimate Joe's ability to fuck things up." We should have listened.
When Biden introduced his top foreign policy advisers in February 2021, he touted their "unmatched experience and accomplishments," as well as their commitment to diversity and inclusion. Biden went on to imply, without evidence, that he had compiled a team "that will keep our country and our people safe and secure."
"It's a team that reflects the fact that America is back, ready to lead the world, not retreat from it, once again sit at the head of the table, ready to confront our adversaries and not reject our allies, ready to stand up for our values," Biden said.
The events of the past several weeks suggest otherwise.