In the past few days, Joe Biden has uttered some howlers. One of the worst came on Friday when he said the allies aren’t criticizing the United States in the wake of Afghanistan’s fall.
Here’s the White House transcript of the question and his remarks.
What’s your message to America’s partners around the world who have criticized not the withdrawal, but the conduct of that withdrawal, and made — made them question America’s credibility on the world stage?
THE PRESIDENT: I have seen no question of our credibility from our allies around the world. I have spoken with our NATO Allies. We’ve spoken with NATO Allies — the Secretary of State. Our National Security Advisor has been in contact with his counterparts throughout the world with our Allies, as has the General — or, excuse me, I keep calling him a General, but my Secretary of Defense.
The fact of the matter is I have not seen that. Matter of fact, the exact opposite I’ve got — the exact opposite thing is we’re acting with dispatch, we’re acting — committing to what we said we would do.
Incredibly, Biden said this after the British parliament had roundly condemned him from all political angles. The current and former prime minister joined in. It was an unprecedented rebuke of an American president by our closest ally. Former Prime Minister Tony Blair all but called him an imbecile. Blair was the prime minister when Britain first joined the United States in the invasion of Afghanistan nigh 20 years ago. Biden and the United States have come in for condemnation from across Europe as well.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken appeared on Fox News Sunday for an interview with Chris Wallace. Wallace asked Blinken about several comments Biden has made in the past week that were demonstrably wrong when he said them, including his denial of the fierce criticism from our NATO allies. Those comments didn’t reach an expiration date. They were factually wrong when they came out of Joe Biden’s mouth.
Here is that interview in full. Wallace introduces this issue at about 6:37 with some sound from the British parliament as it hammered Biden. One member even goes as far as to say that since Biden never served in uniform he should maybe slow down criticizing those who have, including the Afghan military.
At the 7:30 mark, Wallace asks Blinken a straightforward question: “Mr. Secretary, does the president not know what’s going on?”
Blinken refuses to answer, instead going on a riff about how this is an “incredibly emotional time,” as if the allied criticism is just emotional people getting worked up. He talked about how we’ve been in Afghanistan for 20 years, we’ve worked with our allies, and blah, blah, blah. It’s a non-answer that actually says quite a bit about the state of play.
Riddle me this: If Biden knows what’s happening, wouldn’t Blinken have just laughed at Wallace for asking the question and said, “Of course, Biden knows what’s going on. How could you ask such a silly question? He’s in command, he’s on the ball, he’s got gas in the tank and money in the bank because he’s the man.”
Secretary of State Antony Blinken not only doesn’t take the question as silly, but he seems to have anticipated it and had a dodge ready to go. He expected it. And he flatly refused to answer it. Sometimes the refusal to answer is all the answer one needs.