Home News Biden’s take on chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal: ‘No picture book’ ending

Biden’s take on chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal: ‘No picture book’ ending

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Over three weeks after the United States completed a chaotic and deadly troop withdrawal and evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies from Afghanistan, President Biden summed it up by deflecting blame — saying there was never going to be a “picture book” ending to the 20-year war. 

Taking questions from reporters after a speech on the COVID-19 response and vaccination program on Thursday, Biden was asked about the public’s growing concern of his handling of the withdrawal as well as the threat of a government shutdown as even his own party is split on his economic priorities.

He said he will be discussing Afghanistan at the Quad Leaders Summit with leaders from India, Japan, and Australia later Friday, calling it a “legitimate thing that we want to talk about.” 

“But the truth of the matter is, [at] the end of the day, is we were spending $300 million a day for 20 years,” Biden said. “There was no easy way to end that, and we’re not still getting people out.”

Marines and German service member watch an entry gate during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Kabul, Afghanistan, August 28, 2021.
President Biden said the United States was spending $300 million a day for 20 years to be in Afghanistan.
U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Davis Harris/Handout via REUTERS

“But it’s really — there’s no, no picture book way to say, ‘OK the war’s ended let’s get everybody out and we’ll go home.’ No war has ever ended that way other than there’s been a surrender and it’s a totally different circumstance.”

The president admitted that there were things he could have done better but refused to apologize for his proposals, how he is proceeding, or why he thinks the situation will be very different by the end of the year. 

Biden’s speech came one week after the administration admitted to accidentally killing 10 civilians — including seven children and an aid worker — in a drone strike near Kabul’s airport last month. The strike, which was intended to target Islamic State bomb plotters, was in retaliation to an ISIS-K suicide bombing that killed 13 US service members and at least 169 Afghans on Aug. 26.

While Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has ordered a 45-day review of the drone strike, some have already blamed its error on “political pressure.” 

Paratroopers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division prepare to board a U.S. Air Force C-17 to leave Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan.
President Biden admitted that there were things he could have done better during the evacuation of Afghanistan.
U.S. Army/Master Sgt. Alex Burnett/Handout via REUTERS

On Sunday, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the strike was “just another example” of how the administration bungled the US military withdrawal and allowed the Taliban to return to power.

“It looks like they were in a rush. They were in a hurry. You could see the political pressure. And if there was one thing that drove this failed evacuation was the arbitrary political deadline that President Biden set, the arbitrary cap on the number of troops could be there, so we could secure American departure and the departure of our equipment​,” he said on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures.”​

Biden and his administration has also been slammed for being unable to remove all American citizens and Afghan allies from the embattled country before the withdrawal deadline of Aug. 31.

Last week, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in congressional testimony that around 100 Americans remain in Afghanistan. Earlier this month, he revealed that the US is in constant contact with those Americans who “may still wish to leave,” and case management teams have been assigned to each remaining American citizen. 

As the Biden administration works to bring the remaining Americans home, they are also faced with growing tensions at the southern border of Texas and Mexico. 

Last week thousands of migrants, many hailing from Haiti, crossed the Rio Grande and camped under the Del Rio International Bridge while waiting to be processed. Some estimated nearly 15,000 were camped under the bridge at one time. 

The administration has since removed over 5,800 migrants from the camp and only 3,100 remain. While DHS has said 1,949 migrants have been deported, the department has not revealed how many of the remaining removed migrants have been processed for expulsion or “placed into removal proceedings” and released into the US.

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