Opinion

Tony Blinken must go for Afghan disaster, trying to bury its ugly truth

Day 2 of the Antony Blinken show was worse than Day 1: Testifying to the Senate the morning after a savage House grilling, he still had no clear answers to basic questions about the Afghan-pullout fiasco — only gray evasion.

Even many Democrats hit hard. “The execution of the US withdrawal was clearly and fatally flawed,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ). “This committee expects to receive a full explanation of this administration’s decisions on Afghanistan since coming into office last January. There has to be accountability.”

But Blinken, a yes-man at Biden’s side for two decades of disastrous foreign policy, took no responsibility, again fingering Team Trump for the whole debacle and sidestepping questions that would expose his own culpability.

Would he give the committee the July 13 State Department dissent cable in which Kabul diplomats warned the country could fall quickly after the US exit? Blinken paused. No: Releasing it would have a “chilling effect” on future dissenters. How?

Blinken speaks carefully so as to say . . . nothing. Another senator noted many insiders warned of Kabul’s collapse; he smoothly said every government has varying voices, “some worst-case, some best-case and some in between.” When Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) asked more specifically about reports that State had asked the Pentagon to tap the breaks on a quick exit, Blinken huffed, “Senator, I’m not going to get into any internal deliberations or discussion that we had.”

This consummate functionary thinks listening to other functionaries is his real role, not taking and giving wise counsel and turning it into action. When Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said Blinken had a “detachment from reality” if he believed “our NATO allies are on board with this thing,” Blinken insisted, “We factored everything we heard from our allies in our decision-making process.” “Factored” in but ignored, as those allies publicly pleaded for an extension to get their citizens and allies out.

He wouldn’t even offer insight into what State is doing to handle the fallout. When Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) asked him for specifics on how Team Biden is working to protect girls and women at risk from the Taliban, Blinken just repeated his now-weeks-old blather: “We’ve worked to rally the international community to set very clear expectations for the Taliban going forward, including the expectation they uphold the rights of women, girls and minorities.” As if terrorists don’t just laugh at finger-wagging.

With countless Americans and allies still at the Taliban’s mercy, the nation needs a top diplomat who can offer more than blander-than-bland evasion. But Tony Blinken, as ever, is focused only on telling his boss what he wants to hear while smothering anything to the contrary in a sea of fog. He must go.

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