A defiant President Joe Biden spoke to the world to address the calamity taking place in Afghanistan, a nightmare scenario he said on July 8 was “highly unlikely” to occur.
“I had a decision to make,” said Biden, claiming the time was right to leave Afghanistan. The president was adamant, stating that the United States’ goal is “counter-terrorism, not counter insurgency or nation-building.” He added: “We planned for every contingency, including collapse.”
Biden said that he had to make a choice to make as president: “The choice I had to make as your president was stick with Trump’s plan to withdraw or fight.” He noted that Osama Bin Laden is dead and there are other terror threats today, including al-Shabaab and ISIS. The mission in Afghanistan was to make sure al-Qaeda could no longer use Afghanistan as a base to attack the U.S.
He made it clear that he stands squarely behinds his decision to leave Afghanistan, rather than send more troops to fight, although he admitted that the situation “unfolded more quickly than anticipated.” He blamed Afghan leaders who left the country and “gave up” when the military “collapsed.”
Biden went on to say that the U.S. had trained and equipped a force of 300,000, giving them state-of-the-art equipment and a larger army than many NATO countries. “We gave them every tool they could need. We paid their salaries,” he said.
“I believe to my core, it’s wrong to have American forces stand up when Afghan forces will not,” Biden boldly stated to the camera. “One more year, five more years, twenty more years, U.S. military boots on the ground would not have made any difference.”
Biden claimed that U.S. forces are working to secure the airport and resume evacuation flights. He further said that he was making plans for Afghans who are “at great risk.” He said they didn’t make plans to remove Afghans before evacuating because “some didn’t want to go.” He warned the Taliban that if they attack U.S. forces, the response will be “swift and forceful.”
Biden went on defiantly, saying that no amount of military force would secure Afghanistan, which he called a “graveyard of empires.” He said he would rather take the criticism coming his way than remain in Afghanistan.
Panicked mobs stormed the Hamid Karzai International Airport over the weekend, desperately trying to board a plane going anywhere else. Stowaways, tucked into the wheel wells of airplanes, fell to their deaths shortly after takeoff.
The Taliban’s lightning-fast offensive against the Afghan army began in May 2021 when NATO began its final withdrawal, involving the removal of 9,600 soldiers. U.S. forces left the Kandahar airbase in mid-May. The Taliban then took over districts in Wardak province near Kabul, and in the province of Ghazni.
By mid-June, the Taliban had captured several districts in northern provinces, forcing the Afghan army to retreat toward Kabul.
The Taliban swept into northern Afghanistan through July and into August. Between August 12-15 the insurgents took the towns of Ghazni, Herat, Kandahar, Asadabad, and Gardez, and finally Jalalabad on August 15.
Nancy Pelosi’s office released some White House talking points about the calamity in Afghanistan:
- “The president was not willing to enter a third decade of conflict and surge in thousands of more troops to fight a civil war that Afghanistan wouldn’t fight for themselves.”
- “The administration knew that there was a distinct possibility that Kabul would fall to the Taliban.”
- “The administration planned for every possibility. We had contingency plans in place for any eventuality –including a quick fall of Kabul. That’s why we had troops pre-positioned in the region to deploy as they have done.”
- “Chairman Miley [sic] and Secretary Austin are working to restore order at the airport so those flights can take place. “
- Was this an intelligence failure. “[The fall of Kabul] was not an inevitability. It was a possibility.”
“The President said in July that the Afghan military had the capability to fight the Taliban. But they had to demonstrate the will. Tragically, that will did not materialize.”
Before Biden spoke, Mitch McConnell said in a statement that “It was pretty obvious what was going to happen.”
“Biden overruled his military leaders to do it. He owns it.” McConnell said.
Senator Ben Sasse pulled no punches regarding Biden’s handling of Afghanistan and gave a blistering statement:
President Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has been a disastrous display of incompetence that has provoked a humanitarian crisis. He and his administration failed to adequately prepare, failed to safeguard Americans and those who have helped us, drastically underestimated the speed with which the Taliban would overrun Kabul and other parts of the country, and have generally shown themselves unable to fulfill their commitment to an orderly withdrawal. Those who advocated 20 years of nation building in Afghanistan and continually promised the American people that Afghan security forces would soon be able to defend themselves have much to answer for as well. For two decades, almost no one has leveled with the American people about the true state of affairs in Afghanistan. President Biden’s incompetence and failure of leadership is only the latest failure from the Washington establishment in this long war in which so many Americans have honorably fought and died. All of them should answer to the public.