President Joe Biden addressed the nation Tuesday afternoon, presenting a detailed defense of his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and once again honoring the lives of the 13 U.S. service members killed in a terrorist attack last week.
Biden’s speech came the day of the deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from the country. All U.S. troops were reportedly evacuated, though at least 100 Americans, possibly several hundred, remain.
It might seem that there is little to be added to what the whole world has witnessed viewing the unutterable shambles of the U.S. departure from Afghanistan. But that would be an illusion. The story of the perilous departure from Afghanistan of NATO forces and civilians and their Afghan collaborators who are now in mortal danger is obviously a matter of great suspense. The United States could certainly tell the Taliban government of Afghanistan that if all those whom the Western powers wished to evacuate were not allowed to leave it would be an act of war. If there were the will to act on that ultimatum, it would be successful.
But under the circumstances, the credibility of such a threat would probably have to be proved by acting on it. As some commentators have mentioned, this would be morally justified and is morally required and the administration would simply have to accept that it has bungled the withdrawal, and must execute an immediate but brief return. The Biden Administration, after seven months, has shown no competence whatever in foreign or national security policy.
The chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan has produced moving scenes of disorder and desperation. Some see American fecklessness. Others, the rancid fruit of attempting to cultivate Afghanistan in our image. Finally, others see the Biden Administration making a hash of what was fundamentally a good policy of planned withdrawal. Even for those who supported withdrawal—as I did—the events of the last week undeniably were emblematic of the ongoing humiliation of the United States and its military.
Defending his decisions, Joe Biden gave a surprisingly good speech, which could have just as easily come from Donald Trump or Ron Paul. But considering the circumstances, the tone was off. The speech only justified the withdrawal in general and avoided taking responsibility for its particulars, including the grim scene at the Kabul airport, for which Biden and his administration bear some responsibility. Biden defied credulity when he said, “We planned for every contingency.”
President Joe Biden is facing bipartisan backlash over the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan ahead of the 2022 midterm elections as lawmakers from both parties call for an investigation into his administration’s handling of the U.S. withdrawal.
Democrats vowed “tough questions” Tuesday as they used words like “flawed,” “failures” and “horrifying” to describe the administration’s exit strategy and the scenes unfolding in Kabul.
The president, for his part, is not changing course and vows to complete a full withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan. But he now faces the specter of his own party investigating his team’s conduct and competence in the shadows of a 2022 election where control of Congress is up for grabs.