Former CIA Director Leon Panetta compared President Joe Biden’s catastrophic handling of the Afghanistan exit to the botched Kennedy-era Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
Even Democrats are docking Biden for the embarrassing, unnecessarily bloody and amateurish end to America’s longest war.
“Put this into context. This moment is what for Joe Biden, President Biden?” CNN’s John King asked Panetta, who also ran the State Department from 2011 to 2013 during the Obama administration.
“You know, in many ways, I think of John Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs,” he responded. “You know, it unfolded quickly and the president thought that everything would be fine — and that was not the case.
“But President Kennedy took responsibility for what took place. And I strongly recommend to President Biden that he take responsibility, admit the mistakes that were made.”
“We have been through a difficult few days here in Afghanistan, and he’s got to make clear to the American people that as commander in chief, he is going to continue to protect our national security and that we are going to go after terrorists wherever the hell they’re at,” Panetta said of Biden, according to Mediaite.
“He has just got to ensure that the United States of America remains a strong world leader that can work with our allies to try to protect peace and prosperity,” he said.
“That is the message he’s got to give the American people and the world, because our credibility right now is in question,” Panetta concluded.
The comments came before Biden addressed the country and the world on Monday afternoon before heading back to vacation at Camp David in Maryland.
During the brief remarks, the president noted that “the buck stops with me,” but he also used the speech to blame former President Donald Trump for his own decision to leave thousands of civilians in harm’s way in Kabul without military support.
“When I came into office, I inherited a deal that President Trump negotiated with the Taliban,” Biden said, according to a White House transcript. “Under his agreement, U.S. forces would be out of Afghanistan by May 1, 2021 — just a little over three months after I took office.
“U.S. forces had already drawn down during the Trump administration from roughly 15,500 American forces to 2,500 troops in country, and the Taliban was at its strongest militarily since 2001.”
He said that the “choice I had to make, as your president, was either to follow through on that agreement or be prepared to go back to fighting the Taliban in the middle of the spring fighting season.”
After blaming Trump, Biden said, “I am president of the United States of America, and the buck stops with me.”
The teleprompter speech was itself a disaster as the president often struggled to relay the words on the screen with any sense of meaning. He then left White House reporters in the dust like they were Afghan translators and went back to doing nothing in Maryland.
Panetta’s comparison of the disastrous Afghan exit to the botched Bay of Pigs invasion that sought to topple Fidel Castro was fairly spot on, although the two situations are unique. But it makes little sense to argue nuance when people are killed by a president’s decisions.
Kennedy never blamed his predecessor, former President Dwight Eisenhower, for the Bay of Pigs debacle.
Truthfully, what occurred over the weekend across Afghanistan and especially in Kabul was much worse than the Bay of Pigs. The U.S. hadn’t committed anywhere near the time or resources in Cuba that it has in Afghanistan.
This end of this country’s engagement in Afghanistan is in a league of its own as far as blunders go.
We were warned about Biden from someone who knew him best, Politico reported last summer. Former President Barack Obama, when reportedly speaking to someone close to him, cautioned that a Biden presidency might result in disaster.
“Don’t underestimate Joe’s ability to f*** things up,” Obama reportedly said of his two-time vice president.
The bipartisan negative response to what’s unfolding in Afghanistan — including horrifying images such as people falling from airplanes leaving Kabul — is evidence Biden committed a major unforced error.
The issue with the U.S. withdrawal under Biden was one of poor strategy.
It’s not that we’re leaving that is problematic. It’s how we’re leaving. It’s a disgrace.