President Joe Biden may have just come off as the most unpresidential that he ever has in his short time in office. In an ABC News interview with George Stephanopoulos that will be aired in full on Wednesday night, a pre-air clip reveals that Biden is every bit out of his depth as millions of Americans feared.
Biden sat down with the former Clinton staff member George Stephanopoulos in a one-on-one interview that is set to air after his press conference on Wednesday. President Biden emerged from his Camp David retreat to discuss Covid regulations, and did not issue a statement on Afghanistan. When reporters attempted to get him to answer questions on the fall of the country after two decades of war, he turned and ran.
The Stephanopoulos interview, therefore, is the first look at Biden being challenged to defend his decision to ignore his generals, particularly the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the Pentagon, with his decision to pull military forces before American diplomats, stafff and Afghan interpreters had the chance to evacuate first.
“When you look at what’s happened over the last week, was it a failure of intelligence, planning, execution, or judgment?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“Look, I don’t think it was a fair — look it was a simple choice, George,” Biden replied. “When they — when the Taliban — let me back up and put it another way. When you had the government of Afghanistan, the leader of that government getting in a plane and taking off and going to another country, when you saw the significant collapse of the Talib — Afghan troops we had trained, up to 300,000 of them — just leaving their equipment and taking off, that was, you know, I’m not — that’s what happened. That’s simply what happened.”
The ABC News clip then jumps to another part in the interview, when Biden gives his assessment of what went wrong.
“But we’ve all seen the pictures,” Stephanopoulos said. “We’ve seen those hundreds of people packed into a C-17. We’ve seen Afghans falling”…
“That was four days ago, five days ago,” Biden interrupted angrily.
“What did you think when you first saw those pictures?” Stephanopoulos pressed.
“What I thought was, we have to gain control of this,” he said. “We have to move this more quickly. We have to move in a way in which we can take control of that airport. And we did.”
Stephanopoulos was not persuaded by the president’s excuses.
“So you don’t think this could have been handled, this exit could have been handled better in any way, no mistakes?” he asked.
“No— I don’t think it could have been handled in a way that — we;re gonna go back in hindsight and look, but the idea that somehow there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing. I don’t know how that happens.”
This is perhaps the most tone-deaf and damning statement Biden could have made, because it belies that he went against the advice of his generals with his Afghan withdrawal order.
The military advice given to President Biden was detailed in a Wall Street Journal article following his Monday speech on the Afghanistan withdrawal. It is an indictment of the Commander-in-Chief’s decision and shows that the horrific aftermath is due to Biden’s failure to properly assess the risks of an immediate military withdrawal.
“The president’s top generals, including Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Mark Milley, urged Mr. Biden to keep a force of about 2,500 troops, the size he inherited, while seeking a peace agreement between warring Afghan factions, to help maintain stability,” the Wall Street Journal reported. “Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who previously served as a military commander in the region, said a full withdrawal wouldn’t provide any insurance against instability.”
“In a series of meetings leading up to his decision, military and intelligence officials told Mr. Biden that security was deteriorating in Afghanistan, and they expressed concerns both about the capabilities of the Afghan military and the Taliban’s likely ability to take over major Afghan cities,” the report continued.
“Other advisers, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and national security adviser Jake Sullivan, raised the possibility of Taliban attacks on U.S. forces and diplomats as well as the Afghans who for two decades worked alongside them,” the report added. “Ultimately, neither disagreed with the president, knowing where he stood.”
In the aftermath of Biden’s decision, the Taliban have gone on a terrifying spree of reprisals, wreaking carnage against innocent women, abducting children to become sex slaves for their fighters, and exacting vengeance against those who may have cooperated in the occupation, including hangings and beheadings.
Images from Kabul International Airport are among the most haunting witnessed by Americans since civilians jumped to their deaths to avoid a fiery end during the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center. Civilians desperately clung to C-17 transport planes headed out of the collapsing capital, frantic to avoid the Taliban’s deadly wrath. Photographs and video of civilians falling from planes departing from the country and even clinging to it in mid-flight speak volumes about the lack of foresight to withdrawal the military before properly evacuating civilians.
Beyond the tragic human cost, the Biden administration failed to secure billions’ worth of military equipment, including Black Hawk military helicopters, advanced drones, missiles, and firearms. The scale of the military failure is difficult to exaggerate; it is one of the worst military failures in U.S. history, and one of the biggest humiliations on the world stage since the Fall of Saigon.
The Washington Post provided further insight into how the Biden order to withdraw military troops unfolded, culminating in the terrible events this weekend.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken testified to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in June that he did not expect an “immediate deterioration in the situation” if U.S. troops withdrew, the publication notes.
“Whatever happens in Afghanistan, if there is a significant deterioration in security — that could well happen, we have discussed this before — I don’t think it’s going to be something that happens from a Friday to a Monday,” Blinken said.
However, that is almost precisely what happened. President Biden then conceded that his withdrawal did not go the way that he had foreseen.
“The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,” Biden continued. “So what’s happened? Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight.”
Yet that doesn’t encompass the avoidable humanitarian crisis that ensued, nor the failure to secure military equipment, which not only arms ruthless terrorists with some of the most advanced weaponry in the world, but provides a boon to hostile enemies’ military intelligence.
On Tuesday night, former President Donald Trump, who had begun the military drawdown in Afghanistan, explained how he would have done things differently if he were still Commander-in-Chief.
“Think of this, we have a military that’s holding [Afghanistan],” Trump said. “I had it reduced down to 2,500 soldiers and they were doing a good job. It was fine. It was a smaller force. I took it down from close to twenty (thousand) to 2,500. And we were fine.”
“But we have the military there, and we take the military out before we took our civilians out,” Trump pointed out. “And before we took the interpreters and others — we want to try to help them.”
“By the way, I’m America First,” Trump said. “Okay? The Americans come out first. But we’re also going to help people that helped us. And we have to be very careful with the vetting, because you’ve got some rough people in there. But, we’re going to help those people.”
“But, can you imagine?” Trump said. “Now, what we were going to do, very quickly, is we were going to take the military out last. Okay? Last. The people were coming out, they were going to come out, but the agreement was violated, so I held things back, because we weren’t going to do anything. Again, conditions based.”
“So, they weren’t fulfilling their obligations and conditions,” Trump added.
“Just to finish,” he went on. “The people come out first, then I was going to take all of the military equipment. Billions and billions of dollars worth of Black Hawk helicopters, brand new, that Russia now will be examining anjd so will China and so will everybody else, because it’s the greatest in the world.”
“We have brand new Army tanks, and all sorts of equipment, missiles, we have everything,” he continued. “I was going to take it out. Because I knew they weren’t going to fight.”
Then, former President Trump punctuated his points by putting the disaster of Biden’s decision in full context.
“It’s a great thing that we’re getting out,” he concluded. “But nobody has ever handled a withdrawal worse than Joe Biden. This is the greatest embarrassment, I believe, in the history of our country.”
Biden’s unwillingness to face questions about the Afghanistan disaster at his press conference, and his truly oblivious remarks at his interview with George Stephanopoulos, reveal a man whose cowardice and ineptitude are resulting in the waste of military efforts carried out over two decades. Even more tragically, it is also costing innocent people their lives.
The office of the presidency is entirely beyond the powers of Biden to run. His performance during the Fall of Afghanistan simply reveal a president who is unfit to lead.
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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.