Category Archives: International news

‘Over the horizon’ reach? Is it enough?

Although I stand firmly behind President Biden’s decision to end our military involvement in Afghanistan — despite the horrifying rollout of the evacuation plan — I remain concerned about one aspect of our post-Afghan policy and posture.

It’s that “over the horizon” strategy the Pentagon, the White House and the intelligence community plan to employ to protect us from terrorists.

We went to war in Afghanistan 20 years ago to rid the nation of the Taliban hosts who gave al-Qaeda safe haven from which to plan and then launch an attack on 9/11. We rid the government of the Taliban. Now we’re giving it back to them. Wise call? Ultimately, it will save us lives, heartache, misery … not to mention money.

How do we plan to conduct intelligence-gathering in Afghanistan with no physical presence on the ground? President Biden assures us we have assets and know-how and resources to confront terrorists if they emerge to pose threats to us.

Thirteen of our military personnel died in that horrific suicide blast the other day. Joe Biden pledged to make ISIS “pay” for its act of terror. We struck ISIS with a drone strike, killing a couple of terrorist planners. Americans should applaud that effort. However, we still have human beings on the ground there.

In just a couple of days our presence will be gone.

What happens then? I know we have the best intelligence gatherers on Earth. Our director of national intelligence, Avril Haines, is among the best of the best at what she does. I retain faith in her ability and in those at the top of the Pentagon chain of command.

They will have to be on top of their game 24/7 … likely forever, if we’re going to remain safe from terrorists intent on doing bringing harm and misery to our shores.

I just hope they can do so “over the horizon.”

Pledge for the ages

Rhetoric uttered in anger and pain, while we are grieving, does at times develop a certain staying power.

Right after 9/11, President Bush stood amid the rubble of what once were the Twin Towers in New York City, draped his arm around a firefighter and told the world through a bullhorn: “I hear you and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”

Twenty years later, 13 American servicemen and women died when an Islamic State suicide bomber detonated an explosive device at Kabul airport where the United States has been conducting an evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies.

President Biden looked sternly straight ahead and said: “We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down and make you pay.”

And so, there you have yet another statement for the ages born out of extreme anguish and pain.

Mission nearly accomplished

You may not include me among the critics of President Biden who are suggesting, without foundation, that our withdrawal from Afghanistan is a botched deal.

That it is a defeat. That we should be embarrassed. Ashamed. That we were whipped.

None of that happened on the battlefield.

Our evacuation of hundreds of thousands of U.S. citizens and Afghans wanting out of the country is almost complete. The president is warning us of possible — and possibly likely — terrorist attacks as we complete our withdrawal.

I’ve heard some right-wing talking heads refer to the 1940 evacuation of British soldiers at Dunkirk as the way this kind of operation should go. They pillory Biden for what has happened in Afghanistan. I won’t go there.

The president made it clear that we would remove anyone who wanted out. From my vantage point it appears that we are about to achieve that goal.

Twenty years of combat in Afghanistan degraded al-Qaeda’s terror network. Yes, the Taliban seized control of the country more quickly than anyone imagined.

Ending a war cannot be done cleanly and without some hazard. We have learned to our great dismay that is the case as we end the Afghan War. The Islamic State has struck us; ISIS well might hit us again. The president has issued orders to the Pentagon to ensure maximum protection of our forces who are helping facilitate the evacuation.

So the evac plans will continue until the middle of next week. Then we will be done.

I am one American who wants the war to end. Accordingly, as soon as we get our forces out of there I will consider the mission has been accomplished.

Terror group assumes new ID

The new No. 1 terrorist enemy of this nation — apart from the domestic goons who want to overturn an election — has morphed into a version of an old enemy.

The Islamic State today claimed credit for two explosions at Kabul’s airport in Afghanistan. Thirteen U.S. service personnel died in the blasts. I understand 12 of them were Marines; one of them was a Navy corpsman.

This nation is in the midst of an evacuation of U.S. citizens and Afghan allies who aided us during the two decades we fought the terrorists.

Now comes a group called ISIS-K, an offshoot of the monstrous ISIS. ISIS=K is thought to be an enemy of the Taliban, the Islamic fundamentalists who are taking control of Afghanistan as our forces get set to leave.

President Biden spoke strongly, earnestly and with outward conviction. Those who are responsible for the act today — one of the deadliest in the entire Afghan War — should understand that “we will hunt you down and make you pay,” Biden said.

Well, the last time we made that pledge — after the 9/11 attacks — we made good on it with the SEAL/CIA commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden in May 2011.

I doubt seriously it will take us a decade to find the monsters who did this deed and “make them pay.”

I cannot know this for certain, but I am willing to lay down the wager of a lifetime that President Biden today got on the phone with Army Gen. Richard Clarke, the head of our special operations command, and delivered the order to hunt down the ISIS-K terrorists … and take them out.

But … first things first. Our crack intelligence team needs to find these creatures; it needs to confirm their location; then the strike needs to be planned and then executed.

My heart is broken today as we mourn the deaths of our service personnel. It does, though, appear to give credence to President Biden’s insistence that we exit the battlefield in just a few days. He said he feared terrorist attacks on our forces the longer we stay in the country.

Well, it happened.

Hit ’em hard, Mr. POTUS

President Biden no doubt is weighing his options on how to respond to the suicide attack at Kabul airport today.

Here’s a bit of advice from the peanut gallery, Mr. President.

If you know the Islamic State did it with a suicide bomber igniting the explosive that killed four of our precious Marines along with about 60 Afghans, then find out where they’re holed up and blast them to smithereens. 

It’s just me, Mr. President. I don’t have a dog in that fight, other than being a concerned American patriot waiting anxiously for the end of our evacuation effort to arrive.

The president has a crack national security team and an equally expert team of intelligence gatherers who are combing the region for clues as to where ISIS cowards are hiding.

I just hope that when we find them, we’ll send them to the gates of hell where they belong.

My heart is broken for he lives lost, especially those brave Marines who gave their last full measure of devotion. I also am in the mood for vengeance against the monster who did this dastardly deed.

Evac plans proceeding quickly

Given the intensity of the criticism being leveled at President Biden over his decision to pull out of Afghanistan, I am going to sound a little like a lonely voice in the void.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said today that about 1,500 U.S. citizens remain in Afghanistan. He said that the United States has flown more than 80,000 evacuees out of the country as the Taliban have cemented their hold on the government.

One thousand five hundred! Hmm. Does that sound like an evac plan that has failed? It does not to me.

US says about 1,500 citizens remain in Afghanistan | TheHill

To be sure, if I were king of the world I would have wanted Joe Biden to extend the evacuation deadline a bit past the Aug. 31 date he set when he announced our withdrawal. Our allies around the world want us to extend it. President Biden is adamant that the deadline will hold … although he is leaving just a touch of wiggle room to extend it if circumstances demand it. His concern is of attacks from the Taliban and Islamic State terrorists on our troops providing security at Kabul’s airport.

I am not the world king. Then again, neither is President Biden, although he is the leader of the world’s most powerful nation and commander in chief of the greatest military machine ever assembled. He knows what he faces if he doesn’t deliver on his pledge to get everyone out of there “who wants to leave.”

Yes, the evacuation plan should have been lined out chapter and verse long before the president gave the pull-out order. However, the administration appears — at least to my eyes — set to deliver on its pledge to get our citizens and our allies out of harm’s way.

None of this will stop the critics. The nature of politics and policy these days is to grab onto the largest bullhorn one can find and shout at the top of one’s lungs about all you see going wrong.

The critics will have their say. I believe they will be mistaken.

Deadline may be extended

By John Kanelis /

President Biden’s plate of critical decisions is piling up and spilling onto his lap.

Here’s another one that looks more imminent each passing day: The Aug. 31 deadline for pulling out of Afghanistan might be delayed a while longer. Why? Because the president has promised to get every American and Afghan ally who who wants out of the country safe passage to freedom.

My strong hunch is that the project won’t be completed by Aug. 31.

Does that mean our troops who have been sent back to help with the evacuation will remain permanently? Hardly. It means that Joe Biden’s pledge to end our involvement in an Afghan civil war will have be set back until we can get everyone out of there.

Congressional Republicans are threatening impeachment if Biden leaves anyone behind. Frankly, that is the rhetoric of tinhorns. Yes, our withdrawal has gone badly. President Biden is seeking to correct it and we are sending an accelerated number of evacuees out of the country each day.

But the deadline for an end is a week away. Can we finish the job in that short span of time? I doubt it. Keep the troops on call, Mr. President, until the mission is accomplished.

Do we stay or do we go?

By John Kanelis /

Public opinion polls have had their hands full in the past few days.

They are scurrying around the country asking Americans whether the Afghan War was worth the fight. A significant majority of Americans are telling them “no,” it wasn’t worth it.

And yet …

Congressional Republicans continue to pound President Biden over his decision to bring our troops — all of them — off the battlefield. A consequence has been the Taliban takeover of a country our forces fought to protect against the terrorists’ retaking control of the country.

I want to reiterate a key point. President Biden ended what his immediate predecessor started, which was a negotiated settlement to end our fight. That fact has been lost on GOP critics of Joe Biden, one of them being U.S. Rep. Van Taylor, my congressman, who said this in a statement: “Reminiscent of Saigon, President Biden naively chose to conduct an ill-advised and poorly planned withdrawal from Afghanistan despite warnings from national security experts and continuous violations from the Taliban.”

Huh? Eh? Taylor said Biden should have done “nothing.” His decision to end the fight, Taylor said, leaves “America and Americans worse off for it.” He calls this one of the president’s “reckless decisions.”

Hmm. I will disagree respectfully with the congressman.

Americans didn’t want to keep fighting an unwinnable war. POTUS No. 45 sought to negotiate a deal with the Taliban, remember? Do you also recall how he invited the Taliban to Camp David — on a date commemorating the 9/11 attack on our nation?

I agree that the withdrawal should have been planned better. Then again, there should have been an end-game strategy on the day we launched the Afghan War after 9/11. There wasn’t.

By my way of thinking, “doing nothing” about Afghanistan was not an option. President Biden had two choices: staying or leaving. He made the right call.

Historical perspective in order

By John Kanelis /

While we waste our breath, our emotional energy and valuable time bashing President Biden over the end of the Afghan War, I want to offer this bit of perspective for y’all to ponder.

Al-Qaeda terrorists attacked us on 9/11. They had safe haven in Afghanistan. The Taliban sheltered them and kept them hidden from view. President Bush then led a united country into war in Afghanistan.

It was a conflict doomed more than likely from the very beginning.

For 20 years we fought the Taliban. Our special forces killed the 9/11 mastermind, Osama bin Laden, who we found hiding in Pakistan. Yet the fight continued. It was going to go on forever had we allowed it to happen.

President Biden said, in effect, “Enough of this!” He ended the war. Just as he said he would do.

Let’s understand that Joe Biden took control of our military as it was drawing down its presence in Afghanistan. He merely finished an unwinnable task begun two decades ago by George W. Bush.

Let’s also be clear. The war did produce some victories for our side. We degraded al-Qaeda, killing many of the organization’s leaders. Our national attention was yanked away from the Afghan fight when we went to war in Iraq for reasons that stand as an example of supreme deception.

The Afghan War had to end. President Biden ended a conflict that President Bush launched.

Exit strategy anyone?

By John Kanelis /

The chaos and confusion surrounding our exit from the battlefield in Afghanistan prompts a question or two.

One of them is this: When we decide to go to war, would it serve everyone well if we crafted an exit strategy going in knowing that the end would arrive one day?

I ask the question because of the pounding that President Biden is receiving over his withdrawal of troops and the shoddy lack of preparation for the end game.

I say this trying to spread the responsibility around through three previous presidential administrations, namely the George W. Bush administration, which took us to war in Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington.

The question keeps rolling around. Why didn’t President Bush’s team come up with an exit strategy from the get-go? Did he not have some wished-for notion that our war against terrorists would find a conclusion? The same thing can be said of Barack Obama and Donald Trump, the two men who followed Bush into the Oval Office. Did either of them foresee an end? If so, why didn’t they develop an exit strategy that our troops could follow?

Now the whole thing has fallen on President Biden’s lap. He did what he had to do, what he pledged to, which was to bring our troops home from the longest war in our nation’s history. Yes, he should have had an evacuation plan on which to draw when he issued the order. He didn’t. Neither did any of the men who preceded him.

So, who deserves the blame? Does it fall entirely on President Biden? No. It’s a shared consequence.