In 1884 a British general named Charles Gordon was sent to Khartoum in Sudan. An Islamic leader calling himself the Mahdi had organized a revolt in Sudan against the government of Egypt, which then controlled the area. Egypt was itself, in effect, a British protectorate. Khartoum was about to be surrounded by the Mahdi’s army of holy warriors. It was Gordon’s job to evacuate the British citizens and other Europeans in Khartoum ahead of what might well prove to be a massacre.
Gordon arrived to find chaos and disorganization. No preparations had been made for evacuation. In London, the British government dithered, reluctant to get entangled in another foreign adventure, and hoped the entire situation would somehow resolve itself. Only under tremendous public pressure was a relief column finally sent to Khartoum to rescue Gordon and the residents of the city.
The column arrived two days too late. Khartoum had been overrun and the population slaughtered or carried away into slavery. Gordon himself had been beheaded.
In air-conditioned conference rooms in the Pentagon or the West Wing, the world may appear antiseptic and orderly. It is not. It can be brutal and unforgiving. It is particularly so when you are dealing with religious fanatics. You either prepare and demonstrate the necessary resolve or you are victimized.
In Kabul today we have thousands of American citizens trapped in areas now controlled by an Islamic army ideologically indistinguishable from that which followed the Mahdi one hundred and fifty years ago. They do not seek co-existence or dialogue. They seek to purify the Earth and create an Islamic caliphate. They do not preach tolerance. They preach purification by the sword.
In Washington, we have the most incompetent, one might say treasonous, administration that has ever existed. Its leader, our titular President, was an empty suit from the day he sat down in the United States Senate. In the years since he has become one of the most corrupt politicians in American history and what faculties he once had have declined dramatically.
This hideous figurehead is surrounded by yes men, political opportunists, Marxist ideologues, and Chinese ‘cooptees’. The Vice-President made her name in politics by prostituting herself to Willy Brown. She impresses mostly by virtue of her complete lack of any other discernable talent.
The Cabinet is filled with men and women who long ago made the calculation that the United States was a declining power and that the smart money was betting on an ascendant China. Their careers are filled with jobs in which they appeased our enemies and sold out the people of the United States. Not a single one of them has ever demonstrated any backbone. Not a single one of them is taken seriously by any of our adversaries around the world.
Our Defense Department is run by men who obsess over PowerPoint presentations, sensitivity training, and battling the scourge of “white supremacy.” Patton, Bradley, Grant, and Pershing are long gone. These bureaucrats may wear uniforms, but they are just as impotent as all the other men and women who surround them in the increasingly ineffectual civilian agencies of our federal government.
Meanwhile, just as in 1884, on the ground in the real world things are going from bad to worse. A relative handful of American troops are hanging on to a tiny perimeter surrounding an airfield on the other side of the globe. They are surrounded by an Islamic jihadist army that increases in size every day as more fighters arrive from across Afghanistan. Anytime they choose the Taliban can put the runway at the Kabul airport under artillery and rocket fire and make it difficult if not impossible to continue flights in and out of that facility.
When that happens, you have Khartoum. You have a small force besieged, thousands of miles away and hanging on in desperation.
Meanwhile, perhaps ten thousand Americans are still in Afghanistan but have not even made it to the airport. Nor is there any guarantee they will. As the State Department has announced publicly no effort is being made to find these individuals or to bring them to safety. They are on their own. How the bureaucrats making that announcement believe unarmed Americans trapped in what is now a 12th-century Islamic nightmare are supposed to navigate Taliban checkpoints and avoid torture, rape, and execution remain unclear.
In Washington, the mind-bending briefings by Biden’s drones continue, divorced from reality and meaningless to the Islamic warriors of the Taliban. Those men – clear-eyed about their purpose – are now going about the business of hunting door to door for their enemies in Kabul and executing them.
What we should be doing is flowing in substantially more troops to Kabul, surging aircraft to the region, and communicating a clear, unambiguous message to the leaders of the Taliban. We are taking all our people out, unharmed. You can either get out of the way and facilitate that or you can suffer the consequences.
We are no longer here to build capacity or help you become a nation-state. We are laser-focused on protecting our own. We will employ whatever means necessary to achieve that purpose. If you get in our way, we will destroy you. The previous rules of engagement no longer apply. We are not here to win your hearts and minds. We are here to do what the American government should always do, protect American lives.
None of that, of course, is going to happen. Biden will continue to hide. His troop of incompetent subordinates will continue to give press briefings that are increasingly divorced from reality.
We can only hope that fate will smile on us in a way it did not smile on Gordon and his men. We can only hope we are not looking at another Khartoum.