President Biden’s first speech as Commander in Chief to the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday was full of the high-minded internationalist sentiment that defines his rhetoric. If only those words reflected the reality of the world he and America will have to navigate over the next four years.

“We’ve ended 20 years of conflict in Afghanistan,” Mr. Biden averred. “And as we close this period of relentless war, we’re opening a new era of relentless diplomacy; of using the power of our development aid to invest in new ways of lifting people around the world, of renewing and defending democracy.”

Mr. Biden told the assembled leaders what they wanted to hear: America will lash itself to the idealistic offices of the U.N., to the World Health Organization, to the Human Rights Council, and even to a New Global Health Threat Council. Aren’t pandemic threats the WHO’s job? Well, you can never have too many international bureaucracies.

Nowhere was Mr. Biden’s rhetoric more divorced from reality than on women and Afghanistan. In his speech he highlighted “the expectations to which we will hold the Taliban when it comes to respecting universal human rights. We all must advocate for women – the rights of women and girls to use their full talents to contribute economically, politically, and socially.”

Meanwhile in Kabul, the Associated Press reports: “The Taliban expanded their interim Cabinet by naming more ministers and deputies on Tuesday, but failed to appoint any women, doubling down on a hard-line course.”

On Sept. 8, Secretary of State Antony Blinken noted that “despite professing that a new government would be inclusive,” the Taliban’s list “consists exclusively of individuals who are members of the Taliban or their close associates, and no women.”

This weekend the Taliban announced that girls would not be allowed to return to school. All signs so far in Kabul are that the Islamist group is reverting to the same medieval approach to girls and women it enforced the last time it controlled the country.

Perhaps the Administration thinks its well-meaning gender appeals can’t hurt. But the dissonance between the Administration’s words and its actions in abandoning Afghanistan to the Taliban discredits its liberal humanitarian project. No single act by an American President has done more harm to more women than Mr. Biden’s willy-nilly withdrawal from Afghanistan. Noble but feckless exhortations at Turtle Bay can’t make up for that reality.

– The Wall Street Journal, Sept. 21, 2021

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