Just one month ago, President Biden stood in the White House’s East Room and touted the plans that he and his administration had engaged to prepare for the United States’ “orderly” withdrawal. In answer to a question of whether or not a Taliban takeover was inevitable, Biden confidently responded, “No, it is not.” The President went on to flatly deny the assertion of one reporter that the administration’s own intelligence community had assessed an imminent Afghan government collapse.
Yet this week, horrific images and videos continue to surface, showing Afghan civilians attempting to flee their country as the Taliban steps into the void left by a hasty American withdrawal. News emerging from within Afghanistan reports forced marriages between Afghan women and Taliban fighters, civilians terrorized, curfews enacted, checkpoints installed and militants collecting information on who worked for the government and for foreign entities. The situation on the ground remains dire, and the country’s future looks increasingly bleak.
Enter President Joe Biden who returned from his vacation at Camp David to deliver long-awaited remarks at the White House yesterday, leaving Americans altogether uninspired and overwhelmingly dismayed at the lack of leadership displayed. The Commander-in-Chief referenced a handful of victories achieved in the last two decades, including the degradation of al Qaeda and the mission to capture Osama bin Laden (a raid he notably advised then-President Obama against). He blamed Trump for the drawdown deal that he “inherited.” He blamed the Afghan government and the Afghan military for failing to exercise the will to fight. He blamed those Afghan civilians who chose to stay when earlier offered an exit. After blaming everyone but his own administration, President Biden launched into a series of “I” statements, lauding himself as the President who ended American involvement in Afghanistan.
Everyone knew this day was coming. The political will to continue a long and costly war, both in terms of lives lost and tax dollars spent has long since waned. Thousands of service members, veterans of a 20-year war, are left to make sense of their time spent overseas, the separations from family, the battle buddies they lost, and the nation and people they invested in. Former Vice President Mike Pence said of the events unfolding: “The Biden Administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan dishonors the memory of those heroic Americans who gave the last full measure of devotion and all who bravely served there defending freedom these past 20 years.”
The sacrifices of our servicemen and women were not in vain. It is precisely the continued American involvement that the President yesterday condemned that has prevented another 9/11 from taking place for the last 20 years. But we thank you, Mr. President, for your awe-inspiring leadership in our less than inspiring exit and for your singular role in ending the war.