Afghan debacle will cost Biden at the ballot box
When it comes to presidential and congressional elections in the US, it is never too early to plan and prepare for the next cycle, regardless of the most recent results. The winning party immediately begins to focus on its strong points in an effort to widen its majority over the next two years, while its rival enters an analytical phase to find out the reasons that led it to lose and come up with ways to flip the outcome and gain a majority in the House of Representatives and/or the Senate.
That is exactly what the Republican Party has been doing since former President Donald Trump lost to Joe Biden in November 2020.
The most recent polls from NBC News, CBS News, Morning Consult, Harris, and Suffolk University show that President Biden’s approval rating has reached its lowest level since he took office in January, slumping to 47 percent, in part because of the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan and the death of US service members and Afghan citizens in last week’s Hamid Karzai International Airport terrorist attack.
The majority of Democratic, Republican and independent voters support the idea of bringing US troops back, but Americans hate to lose. The daily mess they have been seeing on their televisions and social media platforms shows nothing but defeat.
Even though foreign policy did not play a major role in the past two presidential elections, it is expected to be one of the two major factors — alongside COVID-19 — that will determine the outcome of the 2022 midterms. Biden’s low approval rating threatens the Democrats’ seven-seat majority in the House of Representatives.
The humanitarian crisis among the Afghan people is escalating, especially for those that helped the US and NATO troops and are now stranded in Taliban-controlled territory with no hope of getting out of the country before Tuesday’s deadline, leaving their fate in the hands of the radical militants.
While the Taliban has announced that it will not allow Afghan citizens to leave the country after Aug. 31, the Biden administration has not given these people any assurances they will be able to leave or be safe living under the rule of the Taliban.
It would be political suicide for Democratic candidates decided to defend or justify the president’s decisions.
When asked about the Afghan nationals who had assisted US forces over the past 20 years and who will be left behind, White House Spokeswoman Jen Psaki gave a vague answer during her Friday press briefing. “I don’t think we can guarantee, but what we can do is work toward — and this is what the president directed the secretary of state to continue diplomatic efforts with international partners to secure means for third-country nationals; Afghans with visas who may be eligible for our programs; of course, any American citizen who remains in-country, to leave the country even after the US military presence ends,” Psaki told reporters.
Republicans have been slamming Biden and his administration for mishandling the Afghanistan withdrawal, humiliating the US military and abandoning the country’s major international allies. This will all be clearly reflected in the election results next year.
It would be political suicide for Democratic candidates decided to defend or justify the decisions of the commander in chief of the US armed forces or even repeat Biden’s narrative that he had no choice because he inherited a bad deal from his predecessor. On the other hand, distancing themselves from the president would also be a bad idea because voters want to have straight answers.
I would not say that Afghanistan will be the main reason behind the Republicans gaining control of the House, but the lethal combination of the messy withdrawal, the escalating crime rates in several major American cities, and the US-Mexico border crisis will be a huge political obstacle to overcome.
In the past few days, the 2022 Republican strategy has shifted to Afghanistan and Biden’s approach to the dangerous situation over there. It is not a foreign policy issue when it involves the lives of American citizens.
Democrats know that the stakes are high and accusations that the Afghanistan disaster has been politicized by the Republicans are groundless.
Biden has succeeded in unifying Americans with his failed foreign policy strategy and it will take more than a year to erase the horrific pictures coming out of the war-torn country due to his failure in dealing with the new “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.”
- Dalia Al-Aqidi is a senior fellow at the Center for Security Policy. Twitter: @DaliaAlAqidi