“I do not regret my decision,” President Joe Biden said, as provincial capitals fell, one after the other, across Afghanistan. Days later, the capital Kabul fell with barely a shot as images flashed around the world of desperate Afghans clinging to the exterior of a departing U.S. military cargo jet.
Biden made it clear that the United States would not continue to support the Afghan government. After two decades of U.S. presence, Afghanistan quickly suffered a long-predicted post-U.S. collapse.
“Afghan leaders have to come together. We lost thousands — lost to death and injury — thousands of American personnel. They’ve got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation,” the president said.
America is done with the war in Afghanistan after years of involvement in the region, Biden made clear.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki followed up Biden’s comments by echoing his statements.
Psaki blamed the Afghan military for their own fate, a force which the U.S. trained, funded, equipped, and built over two decades. “They have what they need. What they need to determine is if they have the political will to fight back,” Psaki said.
U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price urged Afghanistan’s new leaders to form an inclusive government that had women in it, despite the Taliban’s long history of iron-fisted rule and oppression of women.
Price cited a U.N. declaration calling for “an immediate cessation of all hostilities and the establishment, through inclusive negotiations, of a new government that is united, inclusive and representative — including with the full, equal and meaningful participation of women.”
Price went further, saying that the government of the United States would recognize a new government in Afghanistan as long as the new government “upholds rights, doesn’t harbor terrorists, and protects the rights of women and girls.”
Many familiar with the administration believe that President Biden will not suffer politically for leaving Afghanistan.
According to polls, official Washington has a strong belief that Americans don’t care what happens in Afghanistan. Just last month, Biden denied that the Taliban might have the ability to regain power, saying it was “highly unlikely” the Taliban would be able to take over Afghanistan.
Former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, however, said that the situation in Afghanistan is a “Bay of Pigs” moment for President Biden, referring to chaotic and failed U.S.-backed effort to overthrow Cuban dictator Fidel Castro during the Kennedy administration.
“In many ways, I think of John Kennedy and the Bay of Pigs, you know?” said Panetta. “It unfolded quickly, and the president thought that everything would be fine, and that was not the case.
“But President Kennedy took responsibility for what took place. I strongly recommend to President Biden that he take responsibility and admit the mistakes that were made.”
The Biden administration is facing rapidly growing outrage as the situation in Afghanistan grows increasingly catastrophic after the withdrawal of U.S. troops. The administration is also facing worldwide criticism of the mishandling of the situation.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that he “is particularly concerned about the future of women and girls, whose hard-won rights must be protected.”
British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said that Britain would use all means at its disposal to hold the Taliban responsible in Afghanistan.
“If President Biden truly has no regrets about his decision to withdraw, then he is disconnected from reality when it comes to Afghanistan,” said Senator Lindsey Graham, R-SC.
U.S. Representative Jim Banks echoed Graham saying, “We have never seen an American leader abdicated his responsibilities and leadership as Joe Biden has. He’s in hiding. The lights are on at the White House, but nobody’s home. Where is Joe Biden?”
While many world leaders reacted negatively, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem celebrated, saying, “We have reached what we were seeking, which is the freedom of our country and the independence of our people.
“We do not think that foreign forces will repeat their failed experience in Afghanistan once again.”
Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi declared military victory stating, “America’s military defeat and its withdrawal must become an opportunity to restore life, security and durable peace in Afghanistan.”
Despite the chaos, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern remained hopeful, saying, “What we want to see is women and girls being able to access work and education. These are things that have traditionally not been available to them where there has been governance by Taliban. The whole world is watching.
“Taliban is making claims about the type of administration they wish to be. We would implore them to allow people to leave safely. It’s not a matter of trust — it’s going to be all about actions, not the words.”