US President Biden said in an interview that he had done nothing wrong with withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. The military leadership, however, admits mistakes.
Washington – After the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden has come under massive criticism. This is mainly due to the fact that Biden had the troops withdrawn from the country earlier than planned – and was apparently not prepared for the situation. On Wednesday (August 18), he conducted an interview for the first time since the Taliban came to power. But Biden does not want to admit any mistakes. The US military, on the other hand, speaks of “misjudgments”.
On Sunday and Monday there were dramatic scenes at the airport in Kabul because many Afghans tried to flee the country. In an interview with the ABC news channel, President Joe Biden stated that these chaotic scenes were inevitable after the planned withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. He doesn’t know how, given the situation, one could have mastered the trigger “without chaos”.
Chaos in Afghanistan was “inevitable” – Biden sees no mistakes
When asked whether the withdrawal could have taken place differently, Biden replied “no” and defended his government’s actions. In view of the Afghan government’s flight, the collapse of the military and the Taliban’s rapid takeover, Biden saw no other solution. For him the chaos was already in sight. “The idea that there is somehow a way to get out of it without the following chaos – I don’t know how to do that,” he said.
When the ABC journalist approached him about the dramatic scenes at Kabul airport, Biden said that it had become clear to him that the US military had to take control of the airport. “And that’s what we did,” said Biden. 4,500 soldiers are now stationed in Kabul to secure the airport and organize the evacuation.
US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan could be delayed
However, the president admitted that there were difficulties in getting Afghan aid workers to safety. The Taliban would “cooperate” and allow American citizens and embassy personnel to leave the country, but the way to the airport would be blocked by the Taliban for many Afghans. Possible reprisals by the Taliban are feared, even if they are conciliatory. So far, according to information from the dpa, the US military has successfully evacuated 5,000 people.
There are currently 10,000 and 15,000 US citizens in Afghanistan, according to the AFP. Biden therefore did not completely rule out the possibility that the US troop withdrawal, which was scheduled to be completed by August 31, could be delayed. “If there are still US citizens there, we will stay to get them all out,” said the president in an interview. Nevertheless, the aim is to carry out the withdrawal by the end of August. Biden did not want to commit himself to whether the US military wanted to extend its deployment to evacuate local personnel.
Chief of Staff Milley: “An army of this size would not collapse in eleven days”
The US military leadership, unlike President Biden, admitted that they had misjudged the situation. “The time frame for a rapid collapse was widely estimated to be weeks, months or even years after our departure,” said Chief of Staff Mark Milley, according to the dpa. The Afghan military was superior to the Taliban in terms of troop strength, training and equipment. In the end, it was a matter of “will and leadership”.
US media previously reported that the government had received warnings from the intelligence services of a rapid collapse of the army and government. The US military rejected that. “There was nothing I saw, or anyone else, that would indicate a collapse of this army and government within eleven days,” said Milley.
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