President Joe Biden reportedly ordered the final evacuations on Monday ahead of a self-imposed deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan — even as American citizens remained left behind in a war-torn nation now being controlled by the Taliban.
Despite vowing just weeks earlier to remain in Afghanistan past the deadline to ensure all Americans are extracted, the finality of Monday’s departure seems to indicate a notably different policy.
Americans, allies left behind
In other words, the president appears to have misled the American people by breaking a promise not to leave vulnerable U.S. citizens and allies behind.
During a Pentagon briefing on Monday, U.S. Marine Gen. Kenneth McKenzie acknowledged that the number of Americans who still wished to be evacuated from Afghanistan likely numbered in the “low hundreds.”
He seemed to imply that they had been prevented in some way from reaching the international airport in Kabul and board one of the final aircraft heading out of the country. Nevertheless, he sought to praise the Taliban for cooperating with the U.S. evacuation effort.
McKenzie also implied that while the military had concluded its operations in Afghanistan, the Department of State would continue to work toward securing the exit of those Americans who remained stranded there.
An unnamed State Department official confirmed that there were a “small number” of Americans, estimated to be “below 250,” in Afghanistan, reiterating the agency’s commitment to achieving their eventual evacuation.
Biden’s mixed messaging
Of course, Biden himself promised earlier this month that he would order U.S. troops to remain in Kabul until every American citizen who wanted to leave had been safely evacuated.
During an ABC News interview, host George Stephanopoulos pressed Biden on what he planned to do to ensure no Americans or allies were put in harm’s way amid the military withdrawal.
The president left considerable wiggle room in his rhetoric but finally offered what some might have interpreted to be a commitment to those individuals.
“And if you’re American force — if there’s American citizens left, we’re going to stay to get them all out,” he said.
Days later, however, Biden’s own administration admitted that the U.S. military did not remain in Afghanistan until all Americans were safely removed. It remains to be seen what steps the White House might take from here, but the efforts thus far are widely seen as unacceptable and intolerable.