U.S. President Joe Biden’s defense of his decision to withdraw the U.S. troops from Afghanistan continues to draw adverse reactions from all corners over the manner of the departure. Biden addressed the mounting criticism on Monday afternoon in his first public speech since the Taliban moved into Kabul, Afghanistan’s capital.
President Biden refused to take any political responsibility for the withdrawal stating that he stands squarely behind his decision. He further added that Afghanis have to defend their country against extremists. Biden said, “this is not a responsibility that the U.S. government and military will continue to have,” further closing any avenues for the rethinking of the policy decision.
He also added, “Afghanistan’s political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. If anything, the past week’s developments reinforce that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision. We cannot and should not be fighting in a war, and dying in a war, that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.”
Despite Biden’s statement that his administration planned for all contingencies, it appeared that they did not consider the logistical nightmare that would follow their rushed exit. Several military generals, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, favored partial withdrawal of about 2500 troops, the size he anticipated while seeking a peace agreement among warring Afghan groups. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who formerly served as a commander in the region, said a complete withdrawal wouldn’t offer any insurance against instability.
A tweet by Mitt Romney best exemplifies the response from the Republican establishment, stating, “The president’s failure to acknowledge his disastrous withdrawal provides no comfort to Americans or our Afghan partners whose lives hang in the balance.”
The President also received condemnation from his own side. Democratic congresswoman and air force veteran, Chrissy Houlahan, challenged Biden’s statement that the pace of the Taliban’s takeover was surprising. “We raised the alarm, and our dire warnings fell on deaf ears,” she said. The bipartisan criticism towards Biden’s move fails to mention that the withdrawal process started during Trump’s administration, and Biden only saw it through. Perhaps it is time to refocus American foreign policy to reflect Biden’s outlook going by the reactions of the Afghanistan government officials and the military.