In Joe Biden’s speech on Thursday, he included a little something for everybody. For soap opera fans, he pretended to shed tears. For Lincoln fans, he worked in the now-clichéd phrase “last full measure of devotion.” For John Wayne fans, he gritted his teeth as he warned the terrorist group that executed 13 U.S. Marines “We will not forgive, we will not forget.” (He had wanted to say “yer dead where ya sit,” but his handlers put their foot down.) He even included the de rigueur reference to his late son Beau, whose death he never fails to mention when speaking about soldiers who died in combat even though his son wasn’t one of them.
Biden spent very little time on the subject most viewers tuned in to hear him address — retaliation for the deaths of those killed in the suicide attack, which was carried out by ISIS-K, the branch of the terrorist network based in Afghanistan. On this topic, he uttered a single sentence, namely the one quoted in the title.
The question that should arise for everyone who reads this empty rhetoric is how Biden intends to make them pay. As of next Tuesday, the last of the U.S. troops will be on their way home. When asked whether he would extend the deadline for withdrawing the last of the troops in light of yesterday’s attack, the president affirmed he would not. So how is going to exact revenge on the killers? Is he going to employ the “over-the-horizon” strategy he has spoken of in recent months? If so — if for example he intends to mount a drone attack — where will he launch it from? He surrendered Bagram Airfield to the Taliban back in June, and there are no other friendly air bases nearby. Besides, how will the Taliban react to a military incursion on Afghan soil by the now-defanged U.S.?