A hard heart and clay feet

Dear President Biden,

I started this letter two days ago after what I think was already an unprecedented number of days in between letters and now that longer-than-usual-break is +2. I’ve just been so disgusted and dismayed by everything I’m seeing and reading that I’ve not been able, or really, willing to gather my thoughts into a standard, polite missive.

Here’s my start from the other day:

It’s hard to know what to say to you right now in the midst of the debacle that is your abrupt pull out from Afghanistan. As far as I can tell, you’re pretty much getting clobbered from all sides, including by those who agree with you that it’s well past time when we withdrew our military from that country. Oftentimes it’s how we do a thing that ends up biting us way harder than whatever the thing is that we set out to do in the first place and this seems to be what most of the editorialists and commenters are upset with you about – for good reason.

You didn’t have to set the timeline you did. You also didn’t have to ignore the copious warning signs that the Afghan forces and the government leaders were teetering on the brink of abject surrender. You didn’t have to order the draw down before those who need to get out, whatever country they might be from, actually had a chance to do so.

I really have no idea what you were trying to prove to whom (seriously, who was this performance for?), but from here it looks like an exercise to try and show some sort of decisive resolve/strength/tough-guyness to someone or someones – Putin? Xi? McConnell? Trump? Who? And if you weren’t driven by a desire to look decisive did you just panic and”

This is where I stopped on Tuesday so this is where I’ll pick up again….

Did you panic and pull the plug because you couldn’t think of anything else to do? I don’t think I’ve ever told you about the rather panicky impulse I used to have as a kid when I was waiting for an overdue bus, but sometimes it would get so bad that I’d almost talk myself into getting on whatever bus came next, no matter how far from my actual destination it might take me. I would just feel so out of control with the waiting and the uncertainty of it all that I’d want to do something, anything, even if it was stupid. I never did do that – I just thought it a lot. And obviously there’s about a million differences between a random teenage girl in Portland, OR thinking about resolving her late-bus-anxiety by getting on a patently wrong bus, and what has and is going down in Afghanistan on your watch, but did you panic?

In a way, I’d rather believe this is what happened than the logical alternative, which is looking increasingly likely as more historical background on your views on Afghanistan come to light. This is from Max Boot today from George Packer’s book Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century:

“Holbrooke raised the costs of abandoning “the people who had trusted us.” Biden’s response: “F— that, we don’t have to worry about that. We did it in Vietnam, Nixon and Kissinger got away with it.””

You know, sir, you really can’t claim that empathy and compassion are your superpowers when you can switch them off like that and this is what we’re also hearing now from you.

Clearly you, all by your lonesome, didn’t start the spiral of events and the situation in Afghanistan, but as the leader of the country that did, you bring shame on us all by taking a cavalier, “we don’t have to worry about taking care of those who trusted us” position.

Had DJT done this, it would have been every bit as infuriating, but it wouldn’t have been the least bit surprising – he never pretended to give a rat’s ass about anyone who didn’t prop him up. I suppose seeing that the one who holds himself out as The Great Empathizer, The Compassionate Politician, The Humanitarian, is capable of such calculated hard-heartedness is just another veil that had to drop. And, I’ll admit, it’s a hard one to let go of.

May we all be safe from American imperialism.
May we all be willing and able to connect the logical dots like Rep. Barbara Lee did so long ago.
May we all have conditions that support our health and our strength.
May we accept that virtually all of our leaders have clay feet.

Tracy Simpson

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