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Tipsheet

'They Failed': Biden Passes the Buck on Afghanistan's Collapse

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

In remarks from the East Room of the White House Monday afternoon, President Biden finally mustered the courage to appear before the American people to offer his explanation for what the world has watched unfold in Kabul, Afghanistan, over the last 72 hours. 

"I am President of the United States of America and the buck stops with me," Biden said of his policy toward Afghanistan, despite his speech being one giant passing of the buck.

The closest Biden came to taking responsibility for what's conspired in Kabul was an admission that "this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated."

Instead of taking accountability for his administration's apparently severe miscalculation of the speed with which the Taliban would seize control of Afghanistan as U.S. forces departed or admitting the Pentagon and State Department were ill-prepared to get U.S. personnel and Afghan allies out of the country, he blamed President Trump and Afghanistan's political and military leadership. 

"Afghan political leaders gave up and fled the country," Biden said. "The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight," he added. "If Afghanistan is unable to mount any real resistance to the Taliban now" then it was pointless to stay any longer, the President explained. "I do not regret my decision."

"When I came into office, I inherited a deal that President Trump negotiated with the Taliban," Biden explained, despite attempts to blame previous administrations falling flat and being dispelled by everyone from POLITICO to The Wall Street Journal. 

"Ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision, the President insisted. "What's happening now could just as easily have happened five years ago or 15 years in the future."

"We were clear-eyed about the risk, we planned for every contingency," Biden said repeating similar statements from recent Pentagon and State Department briefings, a claim that seems hard to believe after watching chaotic scenes unfold. "Mr. Ghani insisted the Afghan forces would fight, but obviously he was wrong," Biden said of Afghanistan's president who fled the country as the Taliban entered Kabul.

"We never gave up the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, and we got him," Biden said trying to find a success to highlight, but he conveniently omitted the fact that he — as Vice President — advocated against greenlighting the 2011 mission that killed the 9/11 mastermind.

The President promised that his administration "will continue to support the Afghan people... continue to push for regional diplomacy... [and] continue to speak out for the basic rights of the Afghan people" who now face tyrannical Taliban governance. 

The U.S. combat troops assisting in the evacuation of U.S. personnel and Afghan allies will continue, with the added task of securing Hamid Karzai International Airport and taking over air traffic control. "Once we have completed this mission," Biden said, "we will complete our military withdrawal" and "end America's longest war after 20 years of bloodshed."

Following his defiant speech, President Biden refused to take questions and left the East Room. 

In previous remarks, President Biden said that there be "no circumstance" in which images of helicopters airlifting U.S. citizens from the embassy in Kabul would take place, yet that's exactly what we saw. Biden also said that the fall of Afghanistan's government was anything but inevitable, yet now the Taliban's bloody offensive has achieved exactly that. 

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