Speaking Tuesday, President Joe Biden seemed to declare a victorious end to the 20-year war in Afghanistan, heralding what largely appeared to be a chaotic evacuation of U.S. citizens there as the Taliban took Kabul as an “extraordinary success.” But even some in the White House aren’t buying what he’s trying to sell.
According to Politico, one official within the Biden administration even said in an interview with the outlet that they were “appalled” and “horrified” that American citizens were effectively abandoned in Afghanistan as U.S. troops pulled out of the country entirely earlier this week.
In a speech Tuesday, Politico said “Biden spent no time dwelling on his own broken promises” with regard to Afghanistan, including his vow to evacuate from the nation all Americans and Afghan allies who helped U.S. troops during the war effort.
But those close to him aren’t letting him off the hook so fast.
“I am absolutely appalled and literally horrified we left Americans there,” one administration official, who remained anonymous, told Politico.
“It was a hostage rescue of thousands of Americans in the guise of a NEO [noncombatant evacuation operations], and we have failed that no-fail mission,” the official added.
Another unnamed official within the White House reportedly told Politico that the NEO mission couldn’t be described as complete if there were still any Americans left behind in Afghanistan.
Still, Biden isn’t content to call it a loss. In his speech Tuesday, the president both took credit for things that went right in Afghanistan while shifting blame for perceived failures.
First and foremost among those on the receiving end of Biden’s blame-shifting was his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, who started the process of a troop withdrawal by way of a deal reached with the Taliban last year that would have had all U.S. troops out of the country by May 1, assuming certain conditions were met.
Biden claimed to have been trapped by that deal — even though he unilaterally altered the deadline to Aug. 31 and has walked back a number of Trump’s other policies — and presented the false choice of an immediate and chaotic withdrawal or another decade of fighting.
“This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries,” Biden said Tuesday, according to Politico. “The bottom line is, there is no evacuation from the end of a war that you can run without the kinds of complexities, challenges, threats we faced,” he added. “None.”
According to Politico, the president took no questions from reporters.