‘Making Taliban great again’: Biden portrayed as terrorist on US billboards
Weeks after the US completed its withdrawal of troops from war-torn Afghanistan, ending nearly 20 years of combat, a bunch of billboards have now popped up across Pennsylvania – portraying US president Joe Biden as a Taliban terrorist and displaying the slogan “Making the Taliban great again”. According to reports, the billboard ads were commissioned by former Pennsylvania senator Scott Wagner, who rented out a dozen billboards across highways at a cost of about $15,000 to display a message that reflected his anger over the US response to the Afghanistan situation.
“What do you say to those veterans [who fought in the Afghanistan war]?” Wagner told the York Daily Record, reflecting on the pullout of US troops in Afghanistan. “It's like Vietnam, even worse.”
The York Daily Record reports that the former senator met a number of veterans, who served the United States in its longest war in Afghanistan, over the years. Wagner said many of these soldiers sacrificed their entire beings – limbs and psyche – for the cause, adding that he is not shy of mocking the recent “chaotic” withdrawal in such a ‘provocative’ manner.
The phrase “Making the Taliban great again” is a play on former US president Donald Trump's now-infamous election campaign slogan and a rallying cry for his supporters – “Make America Great Again”. The image with Joe Biden dressed in Taliban garb and holding a rocket launcher is meant to blame the US president for the messy situation that has developed in Afghanistan following the exit of the United States and its allies from the war-torn land.
The former Pennsylvania senator, however, clarified that he is no Trump supporter, and would have similarly dissed the former US president had he pulled out of Afghanistan. “If Trump had done the same thing, he'd be looking the same way,” said Wagner, bluntly.
It has been a month since the Afghan capital of Kabul fell to the Taliban, following the lightning-fast offensive which won the group control of the state machinery in the war-torn land. Afghanistan watchers and political commentators across the world were stunned by the Taliban blitzkrieg, which coincided with the withdrawal of the United States and allied troops from the country at the end of a nearly 20-year war. The militants made rapid territorial gains in a little over three months' time, as they captured one provincial capital after another; eventually, Kabul fell to the offensive on August 15, 2021.
The sheer tempo of the Taliban takeover surprised many in the international community, and the aftermath reflected widespread domestic and global ramifications regarding human rights and concerns regarding the proliferation of terrorism. The Taliban are now shifting to their roles as the new rulers of Afghanistan, with the insurgents announcing a hardline interim government that betrayed several of their earlier promises to put up a ‘moderate’ face.