By Taylor Penley | September 1, 2021
Remember when House Democrats accused former President Donald Trump of pressuring Ukraine to investigate then-candidate Joe Biden while leveraging military aid as collateral during a phone call with Ukraine’s president in 2019? I do. The accusation prompted Trump’s first impeachment on the grounds of “abuse of power” and “obstruction of Congress” that December, according to the U.S. Sun.
Now, two years later, it’s President Joe Biden who’s responsible for talks with world leaders, talks like the one House Democrats used to attack Trump. And, to afford Biden similar scrutiny to what Trump received, one particular aspect of Biden’s last call with now-former Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani seems especially interesting.
Biden’s final call with Ghani came on July 23 — three weeks before Kabul fell to Taliban forces and Islamic extremism toppled 20 years of democratic progress in the country. The two discussed “military aid, political strategy and messaging” for approximately 14 minutes, Reuters reported on Tuesday after reviewing what it said was a transcript and audio of the exchange provided by an anonymous source. One particular aspect of the leaked transcript appears especially damning for Biden, as the New York Post pointed out.
The Post noted the transcript shows Biden “pressured” Ghani to “‘create the perception’ that the Taliban weren’t winning, ‘whether it is true or not.’”
“I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban,” Biden said during the call, according to Reuters.
“And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.”
Biden’s pressuring went a step further, however, according to Reuters.
If Ghani could successfully fool the public into thinking the Afghan government had plans to control what Reuters called the “spiraling situation” of the Taliban’s resurgence, Biden would offer aid.
“We will continue to provide close air support, if we know what the plan is,” Biden said, according to Reuters.
The outlet added that, just days before the call, the U.S. supported Afghan security forces with air strikes against the Taliban. The Taliban maintained that these air strikes violated the Doha peace agreement signed under the Trump administration.
To provide some context, the Taliban had already advanced into approximately half of Afghanistan’s district centers at the time of the phone call, the Post noted. Just three weeks later, the nation’s capital would be directly threatened by Taliban forces. Ghani fled just before the city fell. But before that would happen, Biden advised Ghani during their exchange to employ prominent Afghan political and military figures — including former Afghan President Hamid Karzai — to further generate the sense of security, the Post added.
“That will change perception, and that will change an awful lot, I think,” Biden said, according to Reuters.
At another point in the conversation, Biden said a change in the Afghan government’s strategy would do more than help “on the ground,” Reuters reported. It would generate support for the Ghani regime internationally.
“I’m not a military guy, so I’m not telling you what that plan should precisely look like, you’re going to get not only more help, but you’re going to get a perception that is going to change,” he said, according to Reuters.
It was never OK to give Afghans or our allies a false sense of security in light of the danger steadily progressing across the country.
Afghan civilians and U.S. allies alike (particularly those in Europe) have since succumbed to a grim reality in one way or another — either being forced to flee their homes, scramble to return to their home countries (if residing there on behalf of another nation) or stay behind in the Taliban’s wake.
And it makes our president look like a liar.
Now, as September begins, the aftermath of the U.S.’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan seems clearer every day.
Our allies are furious with us, Gold Star families mourn the loss of our 13 heroes killed in action during an ISIS suicide bombing outside of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport and several Americans and U.S. allies have since been left behind in the region.
We can only expect things to get worse from here.
Amid the bombshell leaked transcript of Biden and Ghani’s exchange that’s likely to make headway in the news, it’s reasonable to wonder whether Biden’s coercion and deception will stick to his image or roll off his shoulders as if he’s covered in Teflon.
Considering the establishment media’s — and our elected officials’ — histories of handling Biden with kid gloves, the likely answer is already clear.
Taylor Penley, Contributor
Taylor Penley is a political commentator residing in Northwest Georgia. She holds a BA in English with minors in rhetoric/writing and global studies from Dalton State College. As a student, she worked in government relations and interned for Georgia’s 14th congressional district. She previously published an article with Future Female Leaders and published her rhetorical analysis of President Reagan’s Berlin Wall Speech in a collegiate journal. She seeks to study journalism or communication in graduate school.