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Exclusive: The Senate Seats Most Likely To Flip In 2022

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The Senate Seats Most Likely To Flip In 2022

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By Sean Trende for RCP Staff

The 2022 United States Senate elections can best be thought of as the classic battle between the irresistible force and the immovable object. The irresistible force is the playing field. President Joe Biden’s job approval in the RCP Average is currently 39.7%, the lowest of his presidency. That’s about 3.5 points lower than Barack Obama’s job approval was on (midterm) Election Day 2010.

President Obama’s job approval only dipped to 40% briefly, in the immediate aftermath of the botched Obamacare rollout, and it never dropped below 40%. President Donald Trump’s job approval spent much of 2017 below this mark, but in the terrible Republican election year of 2018, it never fell this low.

In other words, this is shaping up to be a worse environment than either of the last three midterms, all of which were nightmares for the party in power.

But the immovable object is real as well: To say that the GOP has failed to field its top team is an understatement. It failed to recruit its preferred candidates in almost every marquee race, including significant failures in New Hampshire, Maryland, Colorado, and Arizona. This deficiency intersects with a reasonably unfavorable map for Republicans; Democrats aren’t defending a single seat in a state that Joe Biden lost, and they have opportunities against Republicans in two states that went for the president in 2020.

RELATED: Biden Looking To Push Student Loan Bailout Before Midterm Elections

Twenty years ago, it would have made more sense to emphasize the immovable object when high quality candidates routinely won in states whose underlying political orientation heavily favored the other party. But that isn’t really how elections work right now. Although candidates matter, they rarely outrun their president’s job approval by more than a handful of points.

Almost all polling in the swing states has shown President Joe Biden’s job approval languishing in the high 30s or low 40s. It’s one thing to ask candidates to run five points ahead of their president’s job approval. But 10 points or more? If their name isn’t Joe Manchin or Susan Collins, it probably isn’t happening .

With that background, here are the Senate seats most likely to flip in 2022.

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Honorable Mention, Alaska (Lisa Murkowski): Democrats have effectively conceded this seat, but Murkowski might still be the most vulnerable incumbent up for reelection this year. Probably the only thing keeping her in the game as a fairly moderate senator from a decidedly red state is that the state’s ranked-choice voting procedures in the general election will give strategic-minded Democrats an opportunity to vote for her as their second choice against the more conservative Kelly Tshibaka. While this gives her a path to victory that she probably lacks in a closed primary, it also creates headaches for her; the more she does to court Democrats, the more she alienates the more numerous Republicans in the state.

Tier III Races

11. Washington (Patty Murray): This could rise up the ratings by the end of the cycle depending on how things play out. Republicans are high on their likely nominee, Tiffany Smiley, and Sen. Murray’s polling has been wobbly enough that she bought television time. This is still a very Democratic state, and Murray survived in 2010 when it was more Republican.

At the same time, it is closer to the center than Missouri, and only a point or two further out from the center than Ohio. If former Gov. Eric Greitens loses the Missouri primary, this race probably goes into the top 10, but for now it’s on the outskirts of competitiveness.

10. Ohio (Open seat): Ohio certainly isn’t a recruiting failure for Democrats – Rep. Tim Ryan has perennially been on the recruiting list for Democrats and is probably the strongest they could field. Republicans have nominated author J.D. Vance. The “Hillbilly Elegy” author is well-known but untested, and in the right year this seat could be vulnerable for the GOP. But this is not the right year.

9. Missouri (Open seat): Twenty years ago Missouri was a classic swing state, but with the “Missouruh” portion of the state moving solidly into the GOP column over the past two decades, that tradition is a thing of the past. This is now a Republican state. At the same time, Republicans are locked in a competitive primary, with a potentially problematic candidate waiting in the wings with Eric Greitens leading narrowly in polls.

Greitens has been dogged by a variety of allegations of sexual improprieties and spousal abuse, and he was facing likely impeachment and removal before resigning in 2018. Democrats would definitely choose to face off against him, and if he wins the nomination this race could move up the ratings. But he isn’t the nominee yet, and even if he is, the potential Democratic nominees are probably too far to the left for the state. Overall, the environment and lean of the state would probably leave the race as a tossup at best.

8. Colorado (Michael Bennet): Colorado is one of those states that elections analysts regularly overlook, mostly because of its notable failures for Republicans over the course of the past decade. But the state only leans toward Democrats by a handful of points, and many Republican failures in the past decade are classic “own goals,” as with Ken Buck’s repeated gaffes and Scott McInnis’ decision to plagiarize an article.

This is still a state that Donald Trump lost by only five points in 2016, and where an obscure GOP challenger came within six points of defeating Sen. Michael Bennet the same year. To be sure, 2020 was much worse for Republicans there. We can debate how much of that is Trump-specific but the point is moot; the GOP failed to lure a top-tier challenger into the race, and it is likely only flipping if the bottom truly falls out for Democrats. A missed opportunity for Republicans.

RELATED: Nearly 70% Of Republicans Want Biden Impeached After 2022 Midterm Elections

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Tier II Races

7. North Carolina (Open seat): While Democrats have continued to have success in the Tar Heel state at the state level, at the federal level it has been a series of near misses for them: Since Barack Obama carried the state in 2008, Republicans have won every presidential and Senate race in the state by less than six points.

With Richard Burr retiring, North Carolina would theoretically be a great pickup opportunity for Democrats, but Republicans have a legitimate candidate in Rep. Ted Budd, and the environment is likely too toxic for former state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (who lost a state Supreme Court race in a much more favorable environment in 2020) to have much of a chance.

6. New Hampshire (Maggie Hassan): Republicans had hoped that Gov. Chris Sununu would run against Hassan, a former governor serving her first term in the Senate. Had he done so, this would probably be the most likely seat to flip. But he didn’t, and Republicans have a crowded primary where no candidate has yet raised a million dollars, against a fixture in New Hampshire politics for the past decade who has raised $21 million. But Hassan’s polling has been weak, even against relatively unknown challengers. This could still be a top-tier race by November.

5. Wisconsin (Ron Johnson): We can debate which tier this race belongs in, although Johnson certainly seems intent on doing his level best to make this a top-tier race. But Democrats face a crowded primary and Wisconsin is a swing state now, where the Democratic slate barely prevailed in a great Democratic environment in 2018. This could turn out to be close, but it doesn’t look that way now.

Tier I Races

4. Pennsylvania (Open seat): Distinguishing among the remaining races is tricky; all have a decent claim to the top spot, and all have solid reasons why they belong nearer to the second tier than the top. Pennsylvania has turned out to be something of a worst-case scenario for Republicans.

The party failed to attract a top-tier candidate, leaving Dr. Mehmet Oz (of Oprah Winfrey fame) and hedge fund CEO Dave McCormick as the leading GOP candidates. Oz then emerged from the primary as the leader by just 910 votes. Making matters worse for Republicans, they nominated Doug Mastriano as their gubernatorial candidate, whose erratic behavior threatens to doom the entire GOP ticket.

But Lt. Gov. John Fetterman, the Democratic nominee, has problems of his own, including potentially serious health issues and claims that he stopped a black jogger at gunpoint. This is also a state where, absent a turnaround in national politics, the Democratic nominee is likely going to have to win around 20% of voters who disapprove of the president’s job performance. This is a Herculean task, and it isn’t clear Fetterman is the right candidate to pull it off.

3. Georgia (Raphael Warnock): Herschel Walker, the Republican nominee, is not the candidate most Republicans wanted leading the charge against Sen. Raphael Warnock, the charismatic pastor who won a special election to give Democrats control of the Senate in 2021. Walker is a political novice who faces a flurry of stalking allegations and other claims of violence toward women, as well as embellishing his resume.

But Walker, a star University of Georgia football player in the 1980s, is a legend in much of the state, and has managed to stay on message for most of the cycle so far. Moreover, with Warnock and Stacey Abrams on the Democratic ticket, this is one state where Democrats definitely don’t have to worry about a drop-off in African American turnout.

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Georgia has been trending toward Democrats, but some of the swing in 2020 was likely Trump-specific and it was still a couple points to the right of the country as a whole. Warnock already trails in the polls, and in this environment it will be difficult for Warnock to hold on to the seat.

RELATED: Conservatives Ready Law-and-Order Agenda Ahead Of Midterm Elections

2. Arizona (Mark Kelly): Arizona has trended sharply toward Democrats the past few cycles. Mitt Romney carried the Grand Canyon State by nine points in 2012, but Donald Trump won by just three points in 2016 before losing it by a fraction of a point in 2020. During this time, Republicans lost both Senate seats as well, also narrowly. Arizona is largely a suburban state, and with the suburbs swinging against the GOP nationally, the impact of perceived Democratic Party shortcomings is felt more here.

The Republican frontrunner is unclear, but all of the contenders have been outraised by Sen. Kelly, a popular former astronaut, who picked up the seat in 2020 and now has to defend it just two years later. Kelly is a solid incumbent who has most other things going for him except for the overall political environment. If Biden’s job approval were to rise, or if the GOP were to nominate a problematic candidate, this race would probably move down the rankings quickly. For now, however, Kelly is in deep danger.

1. Nevada (Catherine Cortez Masto): After moving sharply toward Democrats during the 2000s, Nevada has swung back toward the GOP over the past few cycles. Cortez Masto defeated Congressman Joe Heck by just 2.5 percentage points, and Biden beat Trump by a similar margin in 2020, despite winning by almost double that margin nationally. While Adam Laxalt isn’t necessarily the GOP’s top choice, he has a famous family name, and no trouble fundraising.

In the terrible Republican year of 2018, he lost by only four points. The polling has generally shown Cortez Masto languishing in the low-to-mid 40s, which is a dangerous place for an incumbent to dwell. Overall, the incumbent is weaker and the challenger stronger than in Georgia, and the state (for now) lacks the internecine feuds that beset the state parties in the other top-tier races. That’s ultimately what earns this race top billing. Were Laxalt to lose to his main primary opponent, disabled Afghanistan war veteran Sam Brown, this race could tighten.

Syndicated with permission from Real Clear Wire.

Sean Trende is senior elections analyst for RealClearPolitics. He is a co-author of the 2014 Almanac of American Politics and author of The Lost Majority

The opinions expressed by contributors and/or content partners are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Political Insider.


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A new poll from NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist finds Americans opposed to the Supreme Court decision to overturn Row v. Wade by a 56% to 40% margin, with a plurality strongly opposed and Democrats getting more energized to vote.

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Exclusive: Religious Accommodation Claim Over Objections to Having to Wear Multi-Colored Heart Symbol Can Go to Trial – TalkOfNews.com

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From Judge Lee Rudofsky’s opinion Thursday in EEOC v. Kroger Ltd. Partnership I (E.D. Ark. June 23, 2022):

This case arises from Kroger’s termination of two employees. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleges that these terminations amount to religious discrimination and retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Kroger disagrees.

The two employees at issue—Brenda Lawson and Trudy Rickerd—worked at a Kroger store in Conway, Arkansas. They were fired after refusing to follow the new employee dress code established by Kroger. That new dress code required most store employees to wear an apron that prominently featured a multi-colored heart symbol [pictured above -EV]. Lawson and Rickerd felt that the multi-colored heart symbol supported and promoted the LGBTQ community. That was a problem for Lawson and Rickerd because they both have sincerely held religious beliefs that homosexuality is a sin and that they cannot support or promote it.

After being reprimanded for their refusal to follow the dress code, but before termination, Lawson and Rickerd each requested a religious accommodation from Kroger. Lawson requested that she be allowed to place her nametag over the multi-colored heart. Rickerd requested that she be allowed to purchase an apron without the multi-colored heart on it. They both told Kroger that the failure to allow such accommodations (and continued discipline regarding this dress-code issue) would be religious discrimination.

Kroger neither granted the requested accommodations nor suggested any other potential accommodations. Instead, Kroger attempted (on multiple occasions) to explain to Lawson and Rickerd that the multi-colored heart symbol had no relation to the LGBTQ community whatsoever. Lawson and Rickerd were unpersuaded and continued to refuse to display the symbol. After multiple rounds of discussions and discipline, Kroger fired both women for refusing to comply with the dress code. After Lawson and Rickerd complained to the EEOC, the EEOC brought suit against Kroger….

The lawsuit was chiefly premised on the statutory requirement that employers exempt employees even from neutral, generally applicable workplace rules if (to oversimplify slightly),

  1. “the employee’s sincerely held religious belief conflicted with the employer’s workplace rule” and
  2. the employer can’t “show that accommodating the religious observance or practice would have created an ‘undue hardship on the conduct of the employer’s business.’”

The court began by noting that the sincere belief requirement could be satisfied, under the Court’s precedents, even if the employer says the heart symbols were unrelated to gay pride, so long as the employee sincerely believed they were; and here, “Kroger concedes that Lawson and Rickerd sincerely believe that wearing the Our Promise symbol violates their religion.” And the court added,

In any event, even if Kroger was right that the conflict question included an objective-reasonableness component, there’s evidence in the record that would allow (but not require) a rational juror to conclude that the EEOC has proven prong one. That is, a rational juror could conclude that Lawson and Rickerd reasonably believed that wearing the multi-colored heart would communicate support for and promotion of the LGBTQ community…

Regardless of what Kroger intended for its Our Promise symbol to mean, Lawson and Rickerd object to being seen as supporting or promoting homosexuality…. [A] rational juror could go either way on that question.

At least ten (and possibly as many as twenty) other employees in the same store thought the Our Promise symbol communicated support for or promotion of the LGBTQ community…. [T]here was [also] no campaign to explain the meaning of the multi-colored heart to customers or other non-employees. Essentially, the meaning of the Our Promise symbol was left up to the imagination and interpretation of each particular customer who saw it. Indeed, there is evidence of non-employees concluding that the multi-colored heart was a pro-LGBTQ symbol.

The more people who saw the multi-colored heart the same way Lawson and Rickerd saw it, the harder it becomes to say that no rational juror could find Lawson and Rickerd’s view to be reasonable. Given the number of people in this case who came to the same conclusion as Lawson and Rickerd did, the Court would be reticent to declare this view unreasonable as a matter of law.

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The court also concluded that there was a jury question as to whether Kroger could have exempted Lawson and Rickard without “undue hardship.” It cited the Eighth Circuit standard:

Any hardship asserted, furthermore, must be real rather than speculative, merely conceivable, or hypothetical. An employer stands on weak ground when advancing hypothetical hardships in a factual vacuum. Undue hardship cannot be proved by assumptions nor by opinions based on hypothetical facts. Undue hardship requires more than proof of some fellow-worker’s grumbling…. An employer … would have to show … actual imposition on co-workers or disruption of the work routine.

And it went on to reason:

Kroger argues that accommodating Lawson and Rickerd (and potentially other employees) would have had a more than de minimis impact on Kroger’s branding, business image, and customer relations. Kroger says that granting the requested accommodations would have “undermined the real meaning of the Our Promise symbol” by “giving credence to [the employees’] false assertion that Kroger intended the Our Promise symbol to promote LGBTQ rights” and “endors[ing] the religious belief.” Kroger also says that accommodating Lawson and Rickerd would have “undermine[d] Kroger’s commitment to customer relations and deprive[d] Kroger of free branding.”

On the record in this case, a rational juror could find that accommodating Lawson and Rickerd (and potentially other employees) would have had no effect or next-to-no effect on Kroger’s branding or business image…. [First, p]roviding a religious accommodation to an employee does not signal an employer’s agreement with the employee’s beliefs that created the need for the accommodation. Still, it is theoretically possible that someone could mistakenly consider Kroger’s accommodation of Lawson and Rickerd to be the company’s acknowledgement that its Our Promise symbol was related to the LGBTQ community. But that theoretical possibility is speculative. And it is even more speculative that enough people would share this view—and change their behavior because of it—to result in any hardship to the conduct of Kroger’s business.

As to Kroger’s concern about its “commitment to customer relations” being “undermine[d],” a rational juror could conclude on this record that the requested accommodations would have had no impact on the company’s commitment or its employees’ commitment to customer relations. One of Kroger’s corporate representatives testified that it was “not important for [Kroger’s] customers to know what Our Promise is.” Instead, the Our Promise symbol was used to remind employees of Kroger’s customer-service philosophy. Moreover, the multi-colored heart symbol was not the only way Kroger instilled customer-service values in its employees. There was the inscription on the back of the apron that Kroger made sure employees would see “when they put [the apron] over their head every day.” And Maxwell posted signs in the employee break room that explained the Our Promise campaign, symbol, and Kroger’s commitment to customer service….

Kroger did not require its divisions to adopt the Our Promise symbol. If the Our Promise symbol was important to the conduct of Kroger’s business, one would expect the company to require its use….

Kroger’s final argument in this category—that the requested accommodations would “deprive[ ] Kroger of free branding”—fares no better. The Our Promise symbol does not bear Kroger’s name or any other similar company-identifying logo. The Our Promise symbol has not been marketed to customers….

Kroger also contends that it would have incurred additional financial costs because it “would have had to purchase new aprons for the associates who refused to wear the Our Promise symbol.” But Lawson did not ask for a new apron at all. Lawson asked only that she be allowed to cover the multi-colored heart with her nametag. And Rickerd specifically offered “to buy another apron to ensure there is no financial hardship on Kroger.” So, it certainly doesn’t appear that Kroger would have incurred any additional financial costs had it granted the religious accommodations….

Kroger argues that the requested accommodations would have “caused a substantial disruption in Kroger’s workplace and created potential liability for Kroger against harassment suits from LGBTQ employees.” … Kroger certainly has provided evidence from which a rational juror could conclude that granting the requested accommodations would have led to disruption in the workplace. Primarily, that evidence consists of the disruption that did occur at the store around the time of the distribution of the aprons.

Essentially, Kroger’s read of the record is that something akin to a civil war broke out in the Conway store. Kroger says that Lawson, Rickerd, and the other objecting employees had “discussions with their co-workers [that] led to most employees in the store knowing that [they] refused to wear the uniform because they regarded homosexuality and participation in the LGBTQ community as a sin.” According to Kroger, this offended “members of the LGBTQ community and their allies” and “led to polarization within the workplace, which witnesses described as ‘pretty divisive’ and ‘causing some controversy,’ ‘a major issue,’ ‘an uproar,’ ‘a split,’ and impacting employee comfort.” Peace only came, according to Kroger, once it was clear that Kroger would strictly enforce its dress code.

The problem for Kroger—at the summary judgment stage—is that its reading of the record is not the only plausible one. A rational juror could conclude that the extent and duration of the workplace disruption was significantly less intense. Maxwell (the Store Leader) testified that, while Lawson and Rickerd “did have some support from other associates,” he “wasn’t aware of any” “division” in the Conway store. Judy (on whom Kroger partially relies for its workplace-disruption argument) testified that he did not think it fair “to say this issue split the store.” Indeed, if all reasonable inferences are drawn in favor of the EEOC, the only specific instance of a disruption in the workplace that Kroger points to—the red-marker-and-rainbow-tape incident—could be viewed as being entirely resolved in as little time as an hour or two.

There is no evidence of a meaningful reduction in employee productivity. There is no evidence of a meaningful increase in employee absenteeism. There is no evidence that workplace disruption impacted Kroger’s profits in any way. A rational juror could see all of this as normal workplace friction that was easily resolved by management with no real impact to the business. Further, a rational juror could conclude that granting the requested accommodations would not have caused any additional impacts, even if the workplace friction was marginally prolonged.

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Indeed, even if the workplace disruption was as bad as Kroger makes it out to be, Kroger would still not be entitled to summary judgment. As the EEOC emphasizes in its briefing, “it is the accommodation that must cause the disruption when asserting undue hardship.” A rational juror could conclude that the workplace disruption had little (or nothing) to do with Lawson and Rickerd at all, much less with their requests to cover the multi-colored heart or buy a new apron without the multi-colored heart…. It is easy to conclude that the disruption would have taken place in the absence of Kroger accommodating Lawson and Rickerd. That’s because the disruption did occur in the absence of the accommodations. As to whether granting the accommodations would have prolonged or reignited the disruption, there’s little evidence one way or the other. So, a rational juror could find the prolonged-or-reignited-disruption thesis to be speculative.

Kroger’s disruption argument extends beyond employee conflict. Kroger says customers learned about the employees’ views of the Our Promise symbol and began to complain about the symbol themselves. The only evidence of customer complaints comes from the declarations of Maxwell and Assistant Store Leader Kaela Goodnight. Maxwell tells about a single interaction he had with a customer …. Goodnight’s declaration is essentially the same, with the exception that she speaks of “multiple” interactions ….

A rational juror could conclude that the burden on Kroger from these interactions was de minimis. Neither Maxwell’s nor Goodnight’s statements (nor any other piece of evidence) proves that Kroger lost any of the complaining customers’ business. Neither statement (nor any other piece of evidence) proves that Maxwell or Goodnight spent a significant amount of time explaining the Our Promise symbol to these customers such that non-de minimis inefficiencies occurred. Instead, a rational juror could conclude that (1) more than one customer complained about the multi-colored heart, (2) Maxwell or Goodnight took a brief moment each time to explain what the Our Promise symbol means, and (3) nothing further occurred….

Kroger’s last remaining argument is that accommodating Lawson and Rickerd would have exposed Kroger to legal liability for fostering a hostile work environment or allowing Lawson and Rickerd to harass other employees. That’s a non-starter. All the accommodations would have done was allow Lawson and Rickerd to forego wearing the Our Promise symbol. That is not the stuff of harassment or hostile work environment claims.

This is so even though other people know why Lawson and Rickerd wanted an accommodation—i.e., that they don’t want to endorse homosexuality. Whether such a view is good or bad, right or wrong, it does not constitute harassment or create a hostile work environment. Other concerns Kroger might have—such as the potential for intolerant discussions of LGBTQ issues among workers—are not directly related to the accommodation itself and can be addressed if or when they occur….

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Exclusive: Biden State Dept. Refusing To Cooperate With Afghanistan Inspector General Review – TalkOfNews.com

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There seems to be some discontent between the State Department and the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), an agency that tracks corruption and waste in that country.

In a letter sent to Secretary of State Antony Blinkin, the SIGAR Director says that the Biden administration’s State Department and Agency for International Development (USAID) are refusing to cooperate with SIGAR’s congressionally-mandated review.

After the chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan last year, Congress directed SIGAR to review many areas.

SIGAR was required by Congress to evaluate the performance of the Afghan forces leading up to the devastating collapse, but the Biden administration is arguing that SIGAR has no jurisdiction since the U.S. left Afghanistan. 

A Stalled Review

John Sopko, Director of SIGAR, makes a bold statement regarding State and USAID:

“Agency officials now appear to have adopted a premeditated position of obstruction.”

Allegedly, State and USAID members have ignored communications from SIGAR officials, going so far as to refuse access to individuals for interviews and shut down requests for SIGAR inspectors to travel internationally to conduct boots-on-ground research. 

Other areas of interest for SIGAR include information regarding the transfer of taxpayer dollars to the Taliban. Mr. Sopko is particularly concerned that they aren’t receiving ‘basic information’ when it comes to efforts that have been taken to guarantee programs supporting Afghan people aren’t going to the Taliban or Haqqani network. 

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A State spokesperson responded to SIGAR’s allegations, stating:

“We have had concerns about how some of SIGAR’s requests for information relate to their statutory jurisdiction.”

Mr. Sopko responded in the letter, which of note was also sent to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain:

“State and USAID legal counsels’ claim that SIGAR’s jurisdiction does not include such matters is not only contrary to the law, but a gross deviation from over 14 years of precedent set by 3 prior administrations.”

RELATED: Biden Announces $1 Billion In Military Aid To Ukraine Despite Rumors Of Waning Western Support

Bad Blood?

This isn’t the first time there has been a dust-up between these two offices. For example, in a recent report from SIGAR, there was some disagreement on their assessment of the Afghanistan withdrawal.

The report said the deal initially made by the Trump administration in February 2020 and then honored by the Biden administration directly correlated to the Afghan military collapse. To be exact, the report blasted both administrations and stated their actions were the ‘catalyst’ and the ‘single most important near term factor’ in the collapse. 

State Department spokesperson Ned Price said of the report:

“Many parts of the U.S. Government, including the State Department, have unique insights into developments in Afghanistan last year that were not captured in the report. And we don’t concur with many aspects of the report.”

Within the report, SIGAR also said the U.S. was:

“…disconnected from a realistic understanding of the time required to build a self-sustaining security sector.”

Unacceptable Losses

The desire for answers regarding the Afghanistan withdrawal stems from significant losses during the operation.

None so raw for many Americans and veterans than the 13 service members who lost their lives when a terrorist detonated a suicide vest. The terrorist was imprisoned before the withdrawal but had been released once the Taliban took over the detainment facility. 

Then there was the tragic drone strike launched from faulty military intelligence. The strike killed aid worker Zemeri Ahmadi and seven children. 

Finally, there is the question of the U.S. military equipment left behind. Of the $18.6 billion worth of equipment given to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, $7 billion was left behind. This equipment included aircraft, air-to-ground munitions, military vehicles, weapons, and communications equipment. 

RELATED: Surprise! Experts Worried Weapons Sent To Ukraine Might End Up In Enemy Hands

A Disturbing Trend Of Poor Assessments

Our military community’s effectiveness in assessing other forces’ ability to withstand attacks from adversaries is under intense scrutiny from Congress.

For example, Senator Angus King of Maine said:

“I am not naive enough to think that this is easy or straightforward. What I do believe is it’s damned important and that we have to do a better job. Within one year we had two pretty straight up failures in the opposite direction.”

Senator King is referring to the military’s belief that the Afghan army would stand up to the Taliban and that Ukraine would fall within days of the Russian invasion. Both assessments were grossly inaccurate.

The Taliban militants took control of Afghanistan within 11 days. And as we all know, Ukraine is still fighting back against the Russian invasion. 

The Department of Defense insists that while their assessments were wrong in Afghanistan, they weren’t wrong about Ukraine; they merely overestimated the Russian military capability. Which, in other words, means they were wrong.

RELATED: Has Our Government Learned Its Lesson From The Afghan Withdrawal?

What Else Are We Over (Or) Underestimating?

With two significant misjudgments in such a short time, the concern that our military has been ineffectual in keeping an eye on our near-peer adversaries is well-founded. Even as we were leaving Afghanistan, the military touted our ability to continue ‘over the horizon’ drone strikes against terrorist cells in Afghanistan.

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However, a DOD Inspector General report states:

“Without a presence on the ground, the DOD relies on aviation assets to collect intelligence, surveil terrorist targets, and carry out airstrikes on terrorist targets. The DOD therefore requests over-flight agreements with another bordering nation to enter Afghan airspace.”

The only nation we have such an agreement with is Pakistan. So how many ‘over the horizon’ strikes have we made since the withdrawal? Zero.

Besides the ever-present threat of terrorist organizations, the other adversary that poses a threat to the United States is China. Our leading spy agencies claim they have a high degree of intelligence on China. However, when China launched a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, it surprised everyone, including the DOD. 

RELATED: China v. U.S. War Game Highlights Disastrous Weaknesses In Our Military Might

Congressman Mike Quigley of Illinois and a member of the House Intelligence Committee said of the last two failures and possible future military engagement with China, “I assume our military is going to school.”

We need to do much more than assume and ensure our government cooperates with reviews that can shed light on the dark reality that we may not be as capable as we think. 

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