Did US Ambassador to Afghanistan Suffer a Breakdown During Evacuation?

Many of the blame for the evacuation’s delay has been placed on the State Department and Ambassador Ross Wilson. House Oversight Committee investigations have concentrated on the” dissent channel” cable warning that a collapse was imminent. According to the two people, the cable, which was sent via the State Department’s private dissent channel, forewarned of Taliban regional gains and the following collapse of Afghan security forces and offered suggestions for easing the crisis and hastening an evacuation.
One of the people claimed that the cable, which was dated July 13, even urged the State Department to describe the atrocities the Taliban were committing in harsher terms.
The cable was signed by a total of 23 U.S. Embassy employees who were all Americans, according to the two people. Given the situation on the ground in Kabul, the U.S. official claimed there was a rush to deliver it. Wilson had previously delayed taking any kind of action. That is the narrative that appears in Foer’s Atlantic insider article, which I had formerly covered. Everyone in Sherwood-Randall’s group concurred that a NEO ( noncombatant – evacuation operation ) declaration was premature. On this point, the embassy in Kabul was especially adamant. Ross Wilson, the acting ambassador, wished to prevent Kabul from becoming panicked, which would lead to the army and the state’s more collapse.
In Kabul, major military and civilian officials were met for a videoconference by Secretary of Defense Austin. Before going to the White House to inform the president, he wanted updates from them.
He was informed by the acting ambassador, Ross Wilson,” I need 72 hours before I can start destroying delicate documents.”
Austin retorted,” You have to be done in 72 hours.”
… ……………………..
For the formal flag-lowering ceremony, Ambassador Wilson went to the embassy lobby. He prepared to leave the embassy beyond, a monument to his country’s defeat, feeling emotionally depleted and concerned for his own safety. But at the very end, a real kicker shows up. John Bass was finding it difficult to focus his attention on the task at hand. He had been Washington’s ambassador to Afghanistan from 2017 to 2020.
His phone lit up as class was starting. Bass noticed the State Department Operations Center’s phone number. After apologizing, he went outside to answer the phone.
” Are you open to speaking with Deputy Secretary Sherman?”
Wendy Sherman’s recognizable voice, the No. 2 at the division answered the phone. I’ve got a task for you. You must accept it and depart immediately. Then Sherman said,” I’m calling to ask you to lead the evacuation effort back to Kabul.”
The experience of the previous week left Ambassador Wilson broken, and he was unable to” function at the level that was important” to finish the job on his own. Bass was required by Sherman to oversee the exodus. How did Wilson fare? Some of the probable dots can be easily filled in here. However, the State Department believed Wilson needed to be fired and replaced regardless of what transpired. However, we are only learning about this now. Did Wilson experience a mental or psychological breakdown? And did that ultimately tangle the evac even more? Wilson had objected to the evacuation. This suggests that once the disaster was upon him, he did the typical thing that failed commanders who refuse to see what is right in front of their eyes do in outdated movies and lost his ability to function. That is the kind of thing that should be looked into more thoroughly rather than ignored. On the other hand, the rest of the State Department was a pitiful mess based on this. They quickly pictured the faces of refugees after reading through an enormous volume of emails describing hardship cases. They experienced the guilt and rage that come with being powerless to intervene. The State Department purchased therapy dogs that could lessen the staff’s pain in order to treat the trauma. We’ve transformed from a global power to an appalling wreck, and now we use therapy dogs to assist the diplomatic service in coping with the fallout from their planned collapse. The deputy secretary of state, Wendy Sherman, even required therapy dogs. Sherman responded to requests for assistance throughout the day, including those from Congressmen, YoYo Ma, the cellist, and representatives of foreign governments who attended a normal videoconference she hosted. She felt obliged to descend to the second floor amid the crowd and spend 15 minutes cuddling the therapy dogs. Why are China and Russia making fun of us is understandable. 

The State Department and Ambassador Ross Wilson have taken much of the blame for delaying the evacuation. The ‘dissent channel’ cable warning that a collapse was coming has been the focus of House Oversight Committee investigations.The cable, sent via the State Department’s confidential dissent channel, warned of rapid territorial gains by the Taliban and the subsequent collapse of Afghan security forces, and offered recommendations on ways to mitigate the crisis and speed up an evacuation, the two people said.
The cable, dated July 13, also called for the State Department to use tougher language in describing the atrocities being committed by the Taliban, one of the people said.
In all, 23 U.S. Embassy staffers, all Americans, signed the July 13 cable, the two people said. The U.S. official said there was a rush to deliver it, given circumstances on the ground in Kabul.Previous accounts had Wilson delaying any kind of steps. That’s the story that also shows up in Foer’s Atlantic insider article which I had previously discussed.Sherwood-Randall’s group unanimously agreed that it was too soon to declare a NEO (noncombatant-evacuation operation). The embassy in Kabul was particularly forceful on this point. The acting ambassador, Ross Wilson, wanted to avoid cultivating a sense of panic in Kabul, which would further collapse the army and the state…
Secretary of Defense Austin convened a videoconference with the top civilian and military officials in Kabul. He wanted updates from them before he headed to the White House to brief the president.
Ross Wilson, the acting ambassador, told him, “I need 72 hours before I can begin destroying sensitive documents.”
“You have to be done in 72 hours,” Austin replied.

Ambassador Wilson went to the embassy lobby for the ceremonial lowering of the flag. Emotionally drained and worried about his own safety, he prepared to leave the embassy behind, a monument to his nation’s defeat.But toward the end a hell of a kicker emerges.John Bass was having a hard time keeping his mind on the task at hand. From 2017 to 2020, he had served as Washington’s ambassador to Afghanistan….
As class was beginning, his phone lit up. Bass saw the number of the State Department Operations Center. He apologized and stepped out to take the call.
“Are you available to talk to Deputy Secretary Sherman?”
The familiar voice of Wendy Sherman, the No. 2 at the department, came on the line. “I have a mission for you. You must take it, and you need to leave today.” Sherman then told him: “I’m calling to ask you to go back to Kabul to lead the evacuation effort.”
Ambassador Wilson was shattered by the experience of the past week and wasn’t “able to function at the level that was necessary” to complete the job on his own. Sherman needed Bass to help manage the exodus.What happened to Wilson? It’s not hard to fill in some of the potential dots here. But whatever happened, the State Department felt it had to relieve and replace Wilson. And yet this is the first time we’re hearing of this.Did Wilson suffer an emotional or mental breakdown? And did that end up tangling the evac further?Wilson had resisted the evacuation. Once the disaster was upon him, this implies that he did the usual thing that failed commanders who refuse to see what’s right in front of their eyes in old movies do, and became incapable of functioning. That’s the kind of thing that deserves to be explored further rather than brushed past.Then again, based on this, the rest of the State Department was an equally pathetic mess.Fielding an overwhelming volume of emails describing hardship cases, they easily imagined the faces of refugees. They felt the shame and anger that come with the inability to help. To deal with the trauma, the State Department procured therapy dogs that might ease the staff’s pain.We’ve gone from a world power to a pathetic wreck where we bring in therapy dogs to help the diplomatic service cope with the fallout from the collapse that they engineered.Wendy Sherman, the Deputy Secretary of State, also needed her therapy dogs.All day long, Sherman responded to pleas for help: from foreign governments’ representatives, who joined a daily videoconference she hosted; from members of Congress; from the cellist Yo-Yo Ma, writing on behalf of musicians. Amid the crush, she felt compelled to go down to the first floor, to spend 15 minutes cuddling the therapy dogs.No wonder China and Russia are laughing at us.


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