There were very few Democrats willing to wholeheartedly defend President Joe Biden’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan as the world watched Kabul — and the country — fall into the hands of the Taliban over the weekend.
There were Democrats who stood behind the president but did so in couched language. There were some — the president among them — who blamed former President Donald Trump for the withdrawal agreement Trump signed last year.
Some, like White House press secretary Jen Psaki, simply left for vacations and set their inbox to auto-reply. (Seriously — according to Fox News, that’s what Psaki did.) Most tried to avoid talking about the subject more than they needed to.
There’s a reason, however, former California Gov. Jerry Brown earned the moniker “Governor Moonbeam.”
Brown, a two-time presidential contender who was the governor of the Golden State from 1975 to 1983 and then from 2011 to 2019, was all too happy to praise Biden on Sunday.
In an interview with CNN, Brown called the president “courageous” and argued that the United States already “took out the al Qaeda” and no longer had a reason to be in Afghanistan. He said other presidents “didn’t have the guts that Joe Biden had” in leaving the country to its own devices and implied the military had lied to previous presidents to keep them involved in conflicts where Americans didn’t belong.
Brown made these comments even as Americans remain in Afghanistan — about 10,000, according to The New York Times. According to a USA Today report Monday morning, remaining U.S. citizens were being told to “shelter in place” as gunfire was being heard at the Kabul airport — the only way out of the country for them at the moment.
Brown made the remarks in response to CNN anchor Jim Acosta, who asked the former governor about potential parallels between the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War and the fall of Kabul.
“I want to ask you about this, Governor Brown, because you’ve been in politics for decades. You remember Vietnam. You remember how that ended there,” Acosta said. “What are your thoughts about what we’re seeing right now in Afghanistan? What would be your advice to President Biden right now?”
Brown didn’t miss a beat in his response.
“Well, Biden was very courageous. And there’s so much hypocrisy,” he said.
“Look, the Afghan war, very soon after we went over there, it was over. We got rid of the — we took out the al Qaeda. We chased after bin Laden. We stayed there too long. Bush should have gotten us out. Obama should have gotten us out. Trump. But they were all afraid of exactly what’s happening. They didn’t have the guts that Joe Biden had.”
Brown went on to say that “maybe [Biden’s] Army didn’t tell him how bad it was.”
“I mean, after all, John Kennedy was fooled by the CIA and his Army when he launched the Bay of Pigs,” Brown said. “That was an utter disaster. Vietnam? Yeah, they were climbing off the roof, because, evidently, the CIA and the Army didn’t tell …
“So, these foreign adventures, in totally different cultures, are really not good. So, we’ve got to strengthen the home base. Make prudent actions abroad and terminate them as soon as possible.”
Brown then went on to argue that maybe the Afghan people weren’t terribly interested in preventing Taliban rule.
Former Gov. Jerry Brown praises Biden’s courage and adds, “Bush should have gotten us out. Obama should have gotten us out, Trump. But they were all afraid of exactly what’s happening. They didn’t have the guts that Joe Biden had.” pic.twitter.com/QzOoCPBNAP
— Sarah Reese Jones (@PoliticusSarah) August 15, 2021
“Look, this was not a war that was fought. It wasn’t being fought. We had firepower to kill Taliban,” Brown continued, according to a CNN transcript.
“But the — our friends, our allies, gave up. They didn’t have a rationale. Their only rationale was America there. And they were fighting. But, when push comes to shove, they are more aligned with the Taliban, or at least they’re not ready to die for them.”
And while, Brown said, “Joe Biden will be attacked by the very people that got us in there and got us to stay in there,” the question is why those people didn’t get us out to begin with.
“Because they’re afraid. They’re afraid of exactly what happened,” Brown said. “How do you get out of a quagmire? It’s not pretty but at least Biden has taken the step.”
I don’t know if you noticed, but Brown effectively defeated his entire argument within seconds of opening his mouth: He argued that the Afghanistan War was over “very soon after we went over there” because we accomplished the rationale when “we took out the al Qaeda.”
And, tell us, governor — how did “the al Qaeda” get there?
Remember? It had to do with an ultra-Islamist theocratic insurgency known as the Taliban that took control of the country in 1996 and invited al Qaeda (no definite article needed) into the country, providing the terrorist group with safe harbor to plan its operations — including the 9/11 attacks, which is why we invaded Afghanistan in the first place.
The leaders of that ultra-Islamist theocratic insurgency just seized power again on Sunday. President Joe Biden let them, thanks to the mismanagement of our withdrawal and a refusal to let conditions on the ground dictate the speed at which it happened. He did it with Americans still in the country. A U.S.-led evacuation effort is still underway, although it could face difficulties depending on the whims of the Taliban.
Furthermore, the reason “our friends, our allies, gave up” wasn’t necessarily a lack of a rationale or a desire for Taliban rule. As The Wall Street Journal’s Yaroslav Trofimov explained in a Saturday article, the Afghan military was designed around U.S. intelligence and close air support to buttress it.
Without weaning the Afghan army off of that and reshaping the military’s priorities so that it focused more on population centers and not controlling the vast, relatively unpopulated countryside, the failure of the U.S.-backed forces was almost inevitable. The Taliban could easily demoralize and defeat the military — provided our remaining forces pulled out, of course.
Brown’s argument contains a surprising number of logical dead ends for a clip that’s only a little over a minute — particularly his strange, conspiracy-tinged assertions about the military lying to presidents for its own nefarious ends. But Governor Moonbeam’s fundamental argument is the same one that every hard-left pacifist-isolationist has been making since the end of World War II.
In any war that’s prolonged, any conflict where there cannot be total victory, any fragile military situation where the only choices are bad ones and where none of the outcomes are ideal, there’s only one answer to this brand of leftist: Get. Out. Now.
Forget logistical concerns. Show “the guts that Joe Biden had.” Pull up stakes, get out of town, leave a power vacuum and know that, however it works out, that’s the best it could have worked out. We’re doing everyone a favor. We oughtn’t have meddled in the first place. Staying a little longer only prolongs the agony.
To leftists of the Brown variety, what we saw on Sunday was leadership in action, not dereliction of duty. And if you leave a few Americans behind, well, this was always going to end badly. Hopefully, Biden’s courage is enough to convince the Taliban to let our citizens leave the country.
Notice that Brown is canny enough not to argue we shouldn’t have gone to Afghanistan, merely that it was over when “we took out the al Qaeda.” (We never fully did so, but this is the least egregious lie amidst this piffle.)
That happened, Brown implied, at some point during the Bush administration. That’s when, if Brown were in charge, he would have spoken the isolationist mantra of former Democratic South Dakota Sen. George McGovern — Brown’s kindred spirit and the 1972 Democratic presidential nominee, who ran on the promise of getting us out of Vietnam in an even more disorganized fashion than we eventually did. “Come home, America,” Brown would have declared.
And then what?
Afghanistan’s government, such as it was in the Hamid Karzai days, would have fallen back into Taliban hands the moment we came home. Even if al Qaeda didn’t return, there were no shortage of other terrorist groups shopping for a nation-state that would look the other way as they plotted against the infidels. The Taliban leaders would do more than that — they’d welcome the terrorists in, if history is any judge.
And now they’re free to do so again, thanks to the “courageous” Joe Biden.
It’s interesting to note that Brown closes with the old left-wing pacifist-isolationist canard, that the United States is only inviting this upon itself by being a military superpower:
“What new messes are waiting for us in our 800 bases and absolute overextension, where we’re meddling all over the world?” he asked rhetorically.
I’m not sure, Governor Brown. However, I’d be willing to wager one of those messes began — not ended — on Sunday. Let’s pray it doesn’t involve the Americans still searching for a way out of Afghanistan.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.