Well, now we know why there was no plan to evacuate Afghanistan after 20 years without abandoning thousands of American citizens and allies on the battlefield, killing 13 U.S. troops and surrendering $80 billion worth of American military equipment to our terrorist enemy.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley was too busy to come up with one. He was too busy leaking to a raft of Washington reporters who spent the past year digging up dirt for the library of rabidly anti-Trump books they were writing.
Indeed, loose lips really do sink ships.
It was a moment of stunning honesty during Tuesday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
Sen. Marsha Blackburn, Tennessee Republican, ordered Gen. Milley to provide simple “yes” or “no” answers to her questions in hopes that he might quit all the dodging and weaving he had been doing all morning about the disastrous collapse of Kabul.
“‘Yes’ or ‘No’ to this — Did you talk to Bob Woodward or Robert Costa for their book, Peril?”
“Woodward, yes. Costa, no.”
“Did you talk to Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker for their book, I Alone Can Fix It?”
“Did you talk to Michael Bender for his book, Frankly We Did Win This Election — The Inside Story of How Trump Lost — yes or no?”
But all honesty ended right there. Mrs. Blackburn then asked Gen. Milley if he was accurately portrayed in the books, and he went back to dodging.
“I haven’t read any of the books, so I don’t know,” he replied.
Yes or no question: Does Mark Milley strike you as the kind of guy who talks to reporters about himself but doesn’t look to see what they wrote about him?
In a modest town like Washington, everybody starts books at the very end — searching the index for their own name. And Gen. Milley is a perfect creature of Washington. Whether he is fashionably flogging himself for the television cameras over “white rage” or dodging blame for losing every war he ever touched, Gen. Milley is a Swamp Creature from central casting.
Before Mrs. Blackburn opened up a can of Straight Talk on him, Gen. Milley was busy telling everyone what a huge “success” the Afghanistan retreat really was.
The only unpleasantness you might have noticed — i.e., bodies falling from the sky, dead U.S. troops, women beaten to death for not cooking proper meals for the Taliban — were all just the result of “strategic failure.” In other words, the commander-in-chief’s fault.
“Strategic decisions have strategic consequences,” he said flippantly.
Oh yes, strategic failure — perfectly executed.
In other words, the bodies of Afghan civilians clinging to landing gear landed right on target. Troops signed up to die. And that lady who refused to cook for the Taliban? She had it coming.
Gen. Milley spent the entire hearing hilariously refusing to discuss his discussions with President Biden while at the very same time explaining what his advice was so as to blame the whole fiasco entirely on Mr. Biden.
By the time the game of rope-a-dope was over, Gen. Milley was openly admitting that Mr. Biden — whose secret discussions could not be revealed — had entirely ignored his advice, which of course was to stay in Afghanistan until the return of Jesus Christ or Mohammed or Greta Thunberg. (We strive to be open-minded, non-denominational and inclusive here at the Nuclear Option.)
“The president doesn’t have to agree with that advice,” the general explained as he backed away from the steaming pile of blame he just dumped on Mr. Biden.
“He doesn’t have to make those decisions just because we are generals. And it would be an incredible act of political defiance for a commissioned officer to resign just because my advice was not taken.”
Oh my. Such a brave hero.
Mark Milley is the reincarnation of Gen. Douglas MacArthur — minus all the victories.
• Charles Hurt is the opinion editor at the Washington Times.