CSotD: Credibility

John Darkow is hardly the only cartoonist to depict the last plane departing Afghanistan, or even the only one to offer “credibility” rather than our Afghan allies as what we’ve left behind.

It leaves me asking if all these cartoonists had a better plan.

It’s not necessary to have a detailed plan in order to criticize what you’ve been given, but either you think we should leave or you think we should stay.

If you think we should stay, it’s fair to ask what you think we’d be able to accomplish, and, if you think we should leave, it’s fair to ask how you thought we’d be able to get out painlessly.

As for our credibility, it’s fair to ask you to state where you thought it stood anyway.

It brings to mind two quotes, one of which is apparently apocryphal, but said of a minor dictator, “He’s a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.” There are those who welcome the umbrella of US protection, but still don’t like our overbearing personality.

In this case, they wanted the Taliban out of power, but they were happy to send a few troops and leave it to us to do the heavy lifting, just as they’re happy to have us in Western Europe as a hedge against Russia but they’d rather we didn’t make any demands in return.

Which leads to the second quote, Pierre Trudeau’s famous saying that living next door to us was like sleeping with an elephant, “No matter how friendly and even-tempered is the beast … one is affected by every twitch and grunt.”

If our friends and neighbors didn’t notice any twitching and grunting during the Trump administration, they certainly shouldn’t be feeling any at this stage.

When Obama came to power, he promised that the elephant would settle down, and everyone was so delighted that they gave him the Nobel Peace Prize before he’d done anything to make the promise come true.

Then we all discovered he didn’t have that kind of power after all. You can blame Mitch McConnell or you can say “shit happens,” but, in any case, it was a chance to build our credibility that didn’t much happen.

Now Biden has done something. It may lower our credibility in some quarters, but it might raise it in others.

My guess is that we’ll have to see what else he does, but, if you think our credibility was based on playing “Cops of the World,” we’ll have to disagree.

Even our allies weren’t that happy sleeping with the elephant and they weren’t so sure that we were really their SOB, either.

And there’s another element of credibility: When we left Vietnam, there was a collective sigh and a sense that, thank god, we’d never do anything like that again.

Giving us credibility issues within our own borders.


Bob Englehart points out that we’re so busy pissing on ourselves that it hardly matters whether the world does or not.

Biden is getting it from all sides, and, again, the question is raised of what they expected him to do, what they wanted him to do, what they thought a credible president would have done.


Dave Granlund raised this issue before the remains of the 13 dead were repatriated, and it might have been a good gesture to have all those presidents at Dover to greet what we hoped were the final dead of the war.

Instead, the rightwingers began by spreading a lie that Biden hadn’t shown up, and, when that slander fell apart, they went nuts over his having glanced at his watch and apparently they’re also upset because he saluted his guards and you’re not supposed to salute if you’re not in uniform, though it’s a tradition begun by St. Ronald of Reagan.

As noted the other day, our internal credibility is at the point where we’d rather quarrel than take even a moment to behave decently.


So what are we leaving behind? Xolo (CartoonArts) says nothing has changed, and, again, he’s not the only cartoonist to say so.

But the Taliban have their own credibility to worry about, which they didn’t, back in the days when having kicked out the Soviet Union seemed like all the credibility they needed.

Even then, they had to contend with a resistance, and it is worth remembering that Osama bin Laden left them a thank-you present on the eve of 9/11 by assassinating the leader of the Northern Alliance. Even at the height of their arrogance, when they were blowing up statues and beating women in the streets, the Taliban had been looking over their shoulders.

Now they’re broke and will have to play nice with others to qualify for foreign assistance. Perhaps not all that nicely, but not like before.

And 20 years after being dethroned, they’ve got even more reason for caution, since the Northern Alliance is back and, meanwhile, there are splinter terrorists within who feel they’re not extreme enough.


Juxtaposition of the Day

(Patrick Chappatte)


(Mike Smith – KFS)

There’s an element here of what the Irish say of the little people: “I don’t believe in them, but they’re there.”

The Americans thought they’d wiped out ISIS, though, granted, it was on the word of Donald Trump, and yet there they were, toting a bomb to the gates of the airport and firing rockets over the fence.

Whether or not we believe in them, they’re most certainly there.

As for the Taliban, being in charge isn’t exactly a bowl of cherries. It’s hard enough, in a decentralized, tribal system, to make promises to the World Community about treatment of your people when you can’t guarantee that some jackass out in the countryside isn’t going to grab a gun and party like it’s 1994.

Internal discipline aside, and besides the resistance that thinks the Taliban has gone too far, they’re facing terrorists who feel they haven’t gone far enough.

While seeking aid from a world community that doesn’t trust them but is willing to use them as pawns, which might be the best offer they get.

Well, that’s their problem now.

We’ve got our own credibility to rebuild, and a new set of America Firsters to squelch.


7 thoughts on “CSotD: Credibility

  1. Asking / reducing issues to binary questions happens a lot. The left misrepresents this issue by asking for an answer to a question no conservative I know is asking: “should we stay?”

    Hell no -but when you leave there is a correct way to do it and 140 dead Afghans and 13 U.S. Servicemembers is pretty clear evidence you did it incorrectly. The preponderance of evidence is embarrassing.

    And not for nothing we just equipped a bunch of 12th century cavemen w/ $85billion in weaponry meaning those casualty numbers are just getting warmed up.

  2. 140 dead Afghans and 13 U.S. Servicemembers.

    From one suicide attack.

    As against how many hundreds of thousands airlifted safely.

    If this evacuation had happened under The Former Guy, the losses would reach five figures and the RW wouldn’t say boo.

    We really haven’t learned anything from Vietnam, foreign or domestically.

  3. @Mike Lester- So what was the correct way, now that we have perfect 20/20 hindsight? Mind you, the current administration’s options were limited, based on a bad deal struck by the previous administration. Would Neo-cons been able to deftly spot and disarm a terrorist suicide bomber? If so, why have they not revealed their ninja-type skills before?

    “12th century cavemen” is an intentionally naïve and wrong-headed description of the Taliban but that best fits your narrative, so feel free to keep using it to make yourself feel superior. Of course, your phrasing implies that our highly skilled military, which I know you fully support, couldn’t defeat and subdue mere barbarians.

    With regard to the military material left behind, our forces identified and destroyed most munitions and high-end equipment. Caches of small arms were left behind, but will be useless when the ammunition runs out. The fixed wing aircraft left behind will be of limited use to untrained militias and will quickly become inoperable without proper maintenance. The most useful things we left behind were Humvees and other vehicles. I am more concerned that Russian, Chinese and Iranian forces would try to glean information from high-tech equipment left behind, but I doubt there is little information there that they don’t already have.

    IMHO, we are going to see a long, three-sided proxy war in the region for a long time with the Afghani people once again the losers.

  4. Since there were 13,000+ troops in Afghanistan when Trump began his term and only 2,500 when he left, it’s obvious to me that Biden did the best he could. Trump just didn’t leave enough troops to manage a cleaner withdrawal and evacuation of troops with all their Afghan helpers — especially since the helpers were prevented from leaving with those 11,500 troops, thanks to Trump and Stephen Miller.

  5. Just now: ABCNEWS .@MarthaRaddatz on Pres. Biden’s Afghanistan remarks: “It was a very successful evacuation. We did get more than 120K people out of there. But he’s conflating the withdrawal with the evacuation…they didn’t realize the Taliban would take over so quickly.” http://abcn.ws/3jZ2ePb

    Sort of like conflating dancing and boxing.

    Mr. Harris: I’ve read nothing to support this paragraph- it’s news to me and most news media w/which I’m familiar:
    “our forces identified and destroyed most munitions and high-end equipment.” The latest numbers are revised from $84 down to $65Billion in weaponry left behind -GlennKessler/WashPost
    But Why quibble? Once you get over $50Billion you’re a super power.

  6. From Forbes:

    “The U.S. provided an estimated $83 billion worth of training and equipment to Afghan security forces since 2001. This year, alone, the U.S. military aid to Afghan forces was $3 billion.”


    From NY Post:

    “The exact value of the weapons and equipment abandoned by the US was not immediately known, but it is likely to be in the tens of millions of dollars.”

    And also from the same article:

    “The Taliban had already seized Blackhawk helicopters that were estimated to be worth $6 million during their rapid onslaught to take control of the country.

    Of the equipment left abandoned at Kabul’s airport, McKenzie said troops had deactivated all of it before fleeing.

    “It’s a complex procedure, complex and time-intensive procedure, to break down those systems … so we de-militarized those systems so that they’ll never be used again,” McKenzie said.”


    Estimates of equipment losses totaling in the billions are obviously too high. The equipment lost at the Kabul airport was “decommissioned” but there was other equipment in the country that was also lost.

    Was it bad? Yes. Could it have been done better? Yes. Was it avoidable? Probably not. Should we have withdrawn? We would have had to at some point.

    There will be a lot of finger pointing and blaming for quite a while and we just have to wait and see how it all plays out.

    I will like to point out that the “mainstream” media criticism of Biden kinda puts the story that the media is all liberal fake news to the test. I mean Mike Lester actually quoted ABC News.

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