As the debacle in Afghanistan continues to unfold, President Joe Biden comes more and more to resemble Jimmy Carter, and not in the good, build-houses-for-the-needy way.
Carter’s handling of the Iran hostage crisis in 1979-1980 earned him a spot as one of America’s weakest and most inept presidents, but Biden’s handling of the Afghanistan crisis may not only equal Carter’s national embarrassment but actually manage to surpass it.
Enraged at perceived American interference in the Iranian Revolution, which overthrew the country’s ruling shah and replaced him with a fundamentalist regime ruled by the Ayatollah Khomeini, a mob stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran on November 4, 1979 and took 52 American citizens hostage.
Negotiations went nowhere, and Carter’s first rescue effort, Operation Eagle Claw, left eight U.S. servicemen dead in the Iranian desert and the hostages still in the hands of the extremists. The United States’ Cold War nemesis, the Soviet Union, took advantage of Carter’s perceived weakness on foriegn affairs and invaded Afghanistan in December 1979.
The hostages were released Jan. 20, 1981 — the same day Ronald Reagan was sworn in as president — after a 444-day ordeal.
Despite heroics from the CIA and the Canadian Embassy in
Biden’s crisis is already shaping up to be much larger in scope, and perhaps also in its wider ramifications for America’s place in the world, than Carter’s failure.
In contrast to the few dozen Americans threatened by Iran, around 8,000 Americans are still in Afghanistan. Tens of thousands of Afghans who could be targets for helping us are also trapped. The State Department issued an alert to Americans still in Afghanistan that warned that the U.S. government could not guarantee their safety as they made their way to Kabul Airport.
Biden, like Carter, is being pushed around by a fundamentalist Islamic republic because they know he’s weak, and the Taliban are dictating the terms of our withdrawal.
Dr. Suhail Shaheen, a Taliban spokesperson, said Monday that any attempt to extend the withdrawal deadline past Aug. 31 would be “a red line.”
“If the U.S. or U.K. were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there would be consequences. It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction,” he added.
The president will not extend the deadline beyond the agreed upon Aug. 31 date, multiple outlets reported Tuesday, despite the fact that many experts fear that the U.S. will not be able to fully evacuate all of the American citizens in Afghanistan, much less our Afghan allies, within that timeframe.
The Taliban are bold enough to directly threaten the President of the United States, and it elicits nothing but a tacit acceptance from the administration.
The Taliban have also ordered the U.S. to abandon its Afghan allies.
“If the US or UK were to seek additional time to continue evacuations – the answer is no. Or there would be consequences. It will create mistrust between us. If they are intent on continuing the occupation it will provoke a reaction,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said.
“The way to the airport has been closed now. Afghans are not allowed to go there now. Foreigners are allowed to go, but we have stopped Afghans nationals to go because the crowd is more. There is danger that people will lose their lives,” he added.
The Biden administration is poised to leave several thousand Americans in enemy territory before the deadline, and we could see a hostage crisis dwarfing that of 1979 if Biden does not change his policy. There are already reports that Americans have been harassed, stopped at checkpoints and even beaten by Taliban fighters as they attempt to reach the airport in Kabul.
Much like how the Soviets saw an opportunity to expand their influence while America appeared weak during the Iran hostage crisis, our enemies will almost certainly use Biden’s fumble in Afghanistan for their own enrichment. China is already eyeing Afghanistan’s rich lithium deposits to help it gain a further advantage over the U.S. on strategic minerals. Other rivals like Russia, Iran and North Korea may feel free to pursue their own agendas, confident that the United States will not protect its interests.
The Carter-Biden parallels don’t stop at foreign policy disasters. Carter also oversaw an economy in the grip of severe inflation and rising gas prices.
The average price of gas reached its highest level since 2014 in July, and Biden responded by threatening to make it harder for energy companies to do business. Inflation increased at the quickest rate since 2008 in June, while consumer prices have increased dramatically. Carter’s term saw the 1979 Oil Crisis, partially caused by the Iranian Revolution, and Americans faced gas lines. The U.S. experienced “stagflation,” a combination of high inflation and low economic growth, throughout most of Carter’s term, and prices for everyday items soared.
Carter was trounced by Ronald Reagan in the 1980 election, a year to the day after Iranians stormed the embassy. Democrats were already facing a tough midterm battle in 2022, but Biden’s fumbles may turn a modest defeat into a complete rout for his party. And though Biden won’t have to defend his job for another three years, a foreign policy defeat like the crisis in Afghanistan, and the likely ripple effect it will have across the globe, could send him packing like Carter in 1980.
Hayden Daniel is the opinion editor at the Daily Caller.