Tuesday, the U.S. military’s three top generals testified at the Senate Armed Services Committee about the botched Afghanistan withdrawal. Secretary of Defense General Lloyd Austin, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, and the head of the U.S. Central Command General Franklin McKenzie, were like three little kids who put their hands over their eyes, ears, and mouths – see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
The generals insisted they did nothing wrong, they bore no responsibility for what happened. They deflected, bobbed, weaved and tried to spin one of the most significant military disasters into U.S. military history as a great success.
Nothing was their fault! It was the incompetent Afghan military! It was the corrupt Afghan president! It was the weather!
By the time the generals were finished, they even threw President Joe Biden under the bus.
All three military leaders claimed they advised Biden, in person, that a sudden and complete withdrawal would lead to the immediate collapse of the Afghan military and government. Yet President Biden has said that all his generals agreed in his withdrawal plans. He was just carrying out their recommendations.
That just doesn’t square — either the generals are lying or the president is.
But don’t hold your breath that anyone will take responsibility or be held to account for one of the most shambolic and shameful events in modern American military history.
These three generals, over time and in other positions, trotted up to Capitol Hill year after year telling us that victory in Afghanistan was right around the corner, that all they needed was a few billion dollars more, a few more months, a few thousand more troops.
If they knew it would end this badly, why didn’t they tell us years ago?
If their motives are so pure, why can we expect them to inevitably take off their uniforms and take lucrative positions with defense contractors inside the Beltway, or become defense lobbyists on K Street?
Why did Gen. Milley spend hours with authors like Bob Woodward and various reporters spinning himself as a brilliant strategist and politically correct soldier instead of crafting an Afghanistan withdrawal plan that would save American lives and prevent the rise of a super armed terrorist regime?
Contrast their behavior to Marine Lt. Col. Stuart Scheller, who last month spoke out on behalf of the rank-and-file military and junior officers who want answers from the senior military leaders.
Their response? His military bosses relieved him from command.
Tuesday, while the generals were busy wrapping themselves in the bloody flag of the men and women who fought, bled and died in Afghanistan, Scheller was hit with a gag order and thrown in jail.
He is being held in pre-trail confinement, although the date, time, and specific charges against him are not public.
Scheller is behind bars for speaking the truth, while America’s top three generals spin failure as success and get off scot free.
The people responsible for the Afghanistan fiasco – the generals, the politicians, the civilian leaders – will never be held accountable.
For decades they pushed a war they knew we couldn’t win. They failed to create a stand-alone Afghan military or build a modern society.
When it came time to leave, they were practically criminally incompetent.
In in the end, they abandoned thousands of Americans behind enemy lines.
There is something seriously wrong with the senior leadership of our armed forces. They have taken a sacred, non-partisan, universally respected organization – the American military — and turned it into a woke, politically correct, media-focused, often militarily incompetent institution.
Contrast them to Scheller. He risked his life fighting in Afghanistan.
Then he threw away his storied career by asking that senior leaders answer questions and be held accountable for a lost war.
He’s a hero.
The three generals? They’re not heroes. They’re not leaders. They’re political hacks in uniforms.
K.T. McFarland was President Trump’s first deputy national security adviser and helped formulate his maximum pressure campaigns. She is the author of the book “Revolution: Trump, Washington and ‘We the People,’’