September 1, 2021

Biden’s Afghanistan Address

“President Joe Biden on Tuesday defiantly rejected criticism of his decision to stick to a deadline to pull out of Afghanistan this week, a move that left up to 200 Americans in the country along with thousands of U.S.-aligned Afghan citizens.” Reuters

Watch the full speech here. C-Span

Many on both sides are critical of Biden claiming success:

“If nothing else, President Joe Biden can claim to have had the courage to end US involvement in a war that his predecessors all knew was going nowhere. But his erratic handling of the trauma of the last two weeks shredded his reputation as a foreign policy expert and safe pair of hands, and left millions of Afghans again in the hands of the fundamentalist Taliban and their even more extreme adversaries in the country's ISIS franchise.”
Stephen Collinson, CNN

“The Biden administration wants credit for the Afghanistan evacuation as measured by the sheer number of people it flew out amid a security and humanitarian crisis of its own making… The president contributed to the collapse of the Afghan military by denying it air cover, gave away Bagram Air Base for no good reason, pulled out US troops before our diplomats and civilians and local allies, drastically underestimated the gathering Taliban offensive, and then, caught unawares by the fall of ­Kabul, scrambled to jerry-rig a desperate rescue that shouldn’t have been necessary in the first place…

“We left hundreds of Americans behind who wanted to leave — a squalid ­betrayal that was unfathomable ­before the Biden team began to try to prepare the public for it a week or so ago. It’s hard to imagine any prior American commander-in-chief, perhaps with the exception of Jimmy Carter, abandoning Americans behind enemy lines. Theodore Roosevelt mustered the ­naval might of the United States to save one American who had been kidnapped in Morocco in 1904. Barack Obama traded five Gitmo detainees for Bowe Bergdahl in 2014… [Biden] chose ­defeat and disgrace.”
Rich Lowry, New York Post

“The administration was warned early and often about the 600 or so employees, contractors and family members who worked for U.S.-sponsored news organizations under the umbrella of the U.S. Agency for Global Media, a federal agency funded by Congress. They include journalists working for the Voice of America (VOA) and Radio Free Europe/Radio LIberty (RFE/RL) who have worked in Afghanistan for years — at great personal risk. The Taliban has killed four RFE/RL journalists since 2016 through suicide bomb attacks, and the company’s journalists routinely receive death threats from the extremists…

“The USAGM journalists and staffers had every connection a group of potential evacuees could wish for, and their expectations were correspondingly high. After all, the U.S. government had moved heaven and earth to get Afghan journalists from private U.S. news organizations to safety. Surely, they assumed, it wouldn’t abandon the reporters for whom it was directly responsible. But they were wrong. The RFE/RL journalists and their families made several independent trips to the airport, often spending long days and nights waiting just outside the gates, but never managed to get inside…

“To call the mission a success is an insult that adds to the injury of the tens of thousands of Afghans who didn’t make it out and remain there now in fear for their lives.”
Josh Rogin, Washington Post

Biden's speech was an imaginative presentation of reality. The president insisted that Americans in Afghanistan had been warned 19 times that they could and should leave. I suspect that many Americans in Afghanistan will not recall receiving such warnings…  

“‘I respectfully disagree,’ the president said, with those who argue that the evacuation could have started earlier. But if he was ‘ready’ and this withdrawal was the only way to evacuate, why was the embassy abandoned in such a rush? Why did the U.S. have to literally beg the Taliban for its modicum of perimeter security? Why were Americans and so many of our allies abandoned? Why did Afghans fly off the wings of our planes? Biden said his policy reflected a collective ‘recommendation’ by the Joint Chiefs of Staff… if so, it's just more proof of a rot in the general officer ranks.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

Other opinions below.

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From the Right

From the Left

An Afghan perspective

“I worked on USAID-funded projects to support and observe Afghanistan’s electoral process for nearly three years. I am now employed by an international nonprofit. My former employer submitted the paperwork for my special immigrant visa and then for the P-2 visa program, for Afghans who worked for American contractors, nonprofits and news outlets. A U.S. lawmaker wrote a letter urging that I be granted immediate access to the airport and put on a flight…

I waited and hoped to be put on a flight list. The call never came. I heard stories of people with no documents or improper documents making it onto planes. The erratic and mismanaged evacuation was disappointing and heartbreaking for me and many other Afghans who served in the toughest conditions with their U.S. partners… When the last U.S. plane left Afghanistan, celebratory Taliban gunfire rang out through the night in Kabul. The sound told me that all hope was lost.”
Rasheed, New York Times

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