July call reveals Biden knew Taliban was winning; told Ghani to ‘change perception’ even if it’s not true

President Joe Biden reportedly knew back in July that things were not going well in the Afghan government’s battle with the Taliban and, instead of taking action to slow the advance of the militant force, he opted to change the optics — “whether it is true or not.”

That’s according to a phone call between Biden and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that was obtained by Reuters. Never mind that Biden insisted that same month that it was “not inevitable” that the Taliban would take over Afghanistan, and continues to insist that no one could have anticipated that the Afghan government would collapse so quickly.

The July 23 phone call reportedly lasted about 14 minutes, and Biden was concerned about the Afghan government’s “perception” problem.

“I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban,” he told Ghani. “And there is a need, whether it’s true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.”

Biden said Afghanistan’s prominent political figures should hold a press conference backing a new military strategy, “that will change perception, and that will change an awful lot I think,” he said, Reuters reported.

“We’ll continue to provide close air support if we know what the plan is,” Biden said, prompting critics to charge quid pro quo, given that House Democrats impeached his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, for far less.

The news agency said Biden advised Ghani to put a “warrior” in charge of the effort, which was a reference to Defense Minister General Bismillah Khan Mohammadi.

The U.S. president essentially gave his Afghan counterpart a pep talk.

“You clearly have the best military,” he said. “You have 300,000 well-armed forces versus 70-80,000 and they’re clearly capable of fighting well.”

“We are going to continue to fight hard, diplomatically, politically, economically, to make sure your government not only survives, but is sustained and grows,” he would add.

Within days of the call, provincial capitals in the country fell with little resistance from the Afghan military. On August 15, just over three weeks after the phone call, Ghani fled the presidential palace, allegedly with bags full of $169 million US dollars, and the Taliban rolled into Kabul.

All of which explains why the CIA had left Afghanistan weeks earlier.

“In other words, in July, Biden knew things were going bad, going south,” Fox News host Sean Hannity said on Tuesday’s “Hannity” show, adding that, instead of stopping the Taliban and protecting our interests, Biden was “worried about optics, projecting a different picture.”

“This is a disgrace because what that means is Joe Biden knew that it wasn’t working and was getting dangerous and he didn’t expedite the withdrawal, at a point in time when he could have done it safely,” Hannity said.

Asked in July if a Taliban takeover was inevitable, Biden said: “No, it is not because you have the Afghan troops, 300,000 well-equipped, as well-equipped as any army in the world, and an air force, against something like 75,000 Taliban. It’s not inevitable.”

Biden repeated that line in Tuesday’s speech that he largely yelled while blaming former President Donald Trump.

“The assumption was that more than 300,000 Afghan National Security Forces that we had trained over the past two decades and equipped would be a strong adversary in their civil wars with the Taliban,” he said. “That assumption — that the Afghan government would be able to hold on for a period of time beyond military drawdown — turned out not to be accurate.”

Then again, we all know the perils of assuming.

The speech defied all sense of reality, as Biden claimed “we were ready, when the Afghan Security Forces, after two decades of fighting for their country and losing thousands of their own, did not hold.”

The frantic evacuation from Kabul was a disaster in every sense. In addition to 13 U.S. service members dying, Biden left hundreds of Americans behind while getting tens of thousands of unvetted Afghan citizens out, some on the terrorist watch list and some with criminal records, like a convicted rapist. The U.S. abandoned over $85 billion of military equipment and weapons, making the Taliban one of the best-equipped armies in the region.

Here’s a quick sampling of responses to the story from Twitter:

Tom Tillison

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