Source: The New York Times
“I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I have learned the hard way,” defended President Joe Biden after being criticized for his decision to withdraw military forces. “There was never a good time to withdraw U.S. Forces.”
With the collapse of the Afghan government and the rapid takeover of the country by the Taliban, fingers have been pointed toward the U.S. federal government, with differing political forces blaming President Joe Biden for the chaos that unfolded last weekend.
“The decision to place a higher priority on a political promise than on the lives of innocent men, women, and children is a stain on America’s reputation and undermines our credibility around the world,” GOP Senator Mitt Romney of Utah said in a statement.
Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, a Republican, said Mr. Biden “failed to rise to the occasion.”
Criticisms of Mr. Biden’s execution of the withdrawal from Afghanistan have also come from Senate Democrats, including Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Robert Menendez of New Jersey.
“I am disappointed that the Biden administration clearly did not accurately assess the implications of a rapid U.S. withdrawal,” he said in a statement. “We are now witnessing the horrifying results of many years of policy and intelligence failures.”
After Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the nation last Sunday, the Taliban declared victory, with Kabul being the last major city in Afghanistan to fall into their hands. With the militants’ return to rule bringing an end to almost 20 years of a US-led coalition’s presence in the country, hundreds of civilians have become desperate to flee from the country, forcing their way inside aircraft.
Many thronged the runway and ran alongside a moving military transporter aircraft, while others clung on to the side of the plane, with at least two of them reported to have perished when they fell from the aircraft after it had left the ground.
This dramatic day at Kabul’s international airport forced Biden to address the elephant in the room.
“I always promised the American people that I would be straight with you. The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,” Biden said in a statement. “Afghanistan’s political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without even putting up a fight,” he added.
While the U.S. withdrawal of military forces was set to be completed by the end of the month, Mr. Biden authorized the deployment of 6,000 troops to Afghanistan to help with getting U.S. personnel and Afghan allies out of the country. The U.S. embassy in Kabul, the capital, was evacuated to the airport Sunday. The U.S. charge d’affaires in the country, Ross Wilson, said he is remaining in the city to help American citizens and “vulnerable” Afghans.
As countless criticisms and backlash continue to plague the White House, President Biden stands by his decision, ultimately emphasizing that there was never a good time to pull out U.S. Forces. “How many more American lives is it worth?” asked the Democratic president. “If anything, the developments of the past week reinforce that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision,” he added. “American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.”