Biden to address nation on deadly chaos in Afghanistan
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden will speak to the nation about the United States on Monday
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden will speak to the nation on Monday about the U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan after the planned withdrawal of American forces at Kabul airport resulted in death when thousands tried to leave the country after the Taliban takeover to flee.
The White House says Biden will return to Washington from the presidential retreat at Camp David to speak from the East Room at 3:45 p.m. It will be his first public statement on the situation in Afghanistan in almost a week. Biden and other senior US officials were stunned by the pace of the Taliban’s rapid displacement of the Afghan military.
Senior U.S. military officials say the chaos at the airport left seven dead on Monday, including some fallen from a departing American military transporter. The officers spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to discuss ongoing operations publicly.
Afghans stormed the tarmac at the capital’s airport as thousands tried to flee after the Taliban seized power. Some clung to the side of a U.S. military aircraft prior to takeoff, in a widespread video capturing desperation as America’s 20-year war comes to a chaotic end.
Another video showed the Afghans falling as the plane gained altitude over Kabul. US troops fired warning shots and used helicopters to clear the way for transport planes.
The Pentagon confirmed Monday that US forces shot and killed two allegedly armed people when Biden ordered another battalion of troops – about 1,000 soldiers – to secure the airfield, which was closed to arrivals and departures for hours on Monday because civilians were on the runway were.
The speed of collapse of the Afghan government and the chaos that ensued put Biden to the test as commander in chief, and he was scathingly criticized by Republicans who said he had failed.
A veteran international relations expert, Biden has spent months downplaying the prospect of a rising Taliban while arguing that Americans of all political beliefs are fed up with a 20 year war, a conflict that limits the boundaries of money and military power has demonstrated a Western-style democracy in a society that is unwilling or unwilling to accept it.
National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday that “the speed at which cities were falling was much faster than anyone expected”. He blamed the Afghans themselves for the overthrow of the government and told the NBC show “Today” that the US could not ultimately give the Afghan security forces the “will” to fight to defend their young democracy.
“Despite the fact that we spent 20 years and tens of billions of dollars giving the Afghan security forces the best equipment, training and capacities, we couldn’t give them the will and they ultimately decided they didn’t fight would. “for Kabul and they would not fight for the country,” said Sullivan.
The unrest in Afghanistan puts the focus in an undesirable way for a president who has largely focused on a domestic agenda that includes overcoming the pandemic, getting Congress to approve trillions in infrastructure spending and protecting voting rights.
Biden stayed at Camp David over the weekend, receiving regular briefings on Afghanistan and holding secure video conferencing with members of his national security team, according to senior White House officials. On Sunday alone, his government released a single photo of the president in a conference room where he met virtually with military, diplomatic and intelligence experts.
The fourth US president to face the challenges in Afghanistan, he has insisted that he not hand over America’s longest war to his successor. But he will likely have to explain how security in Afghanistan has faltered so quickly, especially since he and others in the government insisted it didn’t happen.
“The jury is still pending, but the likelihood that the Taliban will overrun everything and own the whole country is highly unlikely,” Biden said on July 8th.
Just last week, however, government officials privately warned the military was collapsing, prompting Biden on Thursday to order thousands of American troops into the area to expedite evacuation plans.
Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump also longed to leave Afghanistan, but ultimately resigned in the face of opposition from military leaders and other political concerns. Biden, on the other hand, steadfastly refused to change the August 31 deadline, partly because he believed the American public was on his side.
For example, an ABC News / Ipsos poll in late July showed that 55% of Americans approved of Biden’s handling of the troop withdrawal.
Most Republicans did not press Biden to keep troops in Afghanistan long-term, and they also supported Trump’s own push to leave the country. Nonetheless, some GOP members increased their criticism of Biden’s withdrawal strategy, saying pictures taken on Sunday of American helicopters circling the US embassy in Kabul were reminiscent of the humiliating withdrawal of US personnel from Vietnam.
The Senate Republican chairman, Mitch McConnell, described the retreat scenes as “the embarrassment of an abandoned superpower”.
Senior government officials believe the US can maintain security at Kabul airport long enough to free the Americans and their allies, but the fate of those unable to reach the airport has been far from certain.
In the upper echelons of Biden’s staff, the rapid collapse in Afghanistan only confirmed the decision to retreat: if the meltdown of the Afghan forces came so quickly after nearly two decades of American presence, another six months or a year or two or more would be nothing have changed.
Biden has argued for more than a decade that Afghanistan is a kind of purgatory for the US. He found it corrupt, addicted to America’s generosity, and an unreliable partner to fend for. His goal was to protect Americans from terrorist attacks, not to build a country.
In July he said he made the decision to withdraw with “clear eyes”. His verdict was that in a peace deal with the Taliban, Afghanistan would be divided instead of falling all at once.
“There will be no circumstance in which people are lifted from the roof of an embassy in the United States by Afghanistan,” he said in July. “The likelihood that a unified government in Afghanistan will control the entire country is very unlikely.”
Associated press writers Michael Balsamo, James LaPorta and Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.
Zeke Miller, Jonathan Lemire, and Josh Boak, The Associated Press