Americans are getting to know a nasty version of Joe Biden after comments made by the President about Afghanistan emerged following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban.
Kabul international airport saw shocking scenes yesterday as hundreds of Afghans tried to board flights bound for the West with some even clinging on to the exterior of aircraft as they took off.
Yesterday, the President of the United States gave an address at the White House on the Taliban takeover just months after American forces began withdrawing from Afghanistan. He took no questions before returning immediately to his holiday hideout at Camp David.
Biden shocked allies in not accepting blame or admitting to any mistakes in spite of having given his full assurance only a month ago that the Afghan army would holdout out against the Taliban.
“I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces,” said Biden. “That’s why we’re still there.”
He went on to accuse the Afghan army, which has sustained 45,000 casualties since 2014 of lacking “the will to fight”. He also insisted America’s mission in Afghanistan was not nation-building but purely to combat terrorism, a direct contradiction with a statement made in 2001 when he said, “our hope is that we will see a relatively stable government in Afghanistan” that “provides the foundation for future reconstruction of that country”. Two years later he said, “the alternative to nation-building is chaos, a chaos that churns out blood-thirsty warlords, drug traffickers and terrorists.”
Yesterday’s speech is being widely labelled Biden’s “America First” policy, but while Donald Trump built his political brand around prioritising America and her citizens, Biden has not.
On a visit to Afghanistan recorded in the diaries of Barack Obama’s special envoy, Richard Holbrook, Biden was asked what he felt America’s obligations were to Afghan school girls who would suffer under Taliban rule. “F**k that, we don’t have to worry about that. We did it in Vietnam, Nixon and Kissinger got away with it,” was the then vice president’s reply. The commnets are particularly damaging given how much Biden has presented himself as a champion for equality, basking in media adulation for having selected a woman as his running mate in 2020.
The Afghanistan catastrophe has exposed Biden’s cruel side as well as his arrogance and stubbornness. On 8 July he repeatedly insisted a Taliban victory was not inevitable, but at the beginning of the year, he was warned by an influential group of US experts on Afghanistan that keeping 4,500 troops on the ground would make the difference in averting a Taliban resurgence. But “Mr Biden, as always too assured of his own foreign-policy acumen, refused to listen,” reports the Wall Street Journal. The New York Times, normally a strong ally of Biden’s, reports the President overruled his top military advisers concerned the withdrawal would lead to catastrophe.
Odd that the President would be so defensive behind closed doors of a withdrawal policy given to him by President Trump. Less odd perhaps that he would so flagrantly trash key campaign promises to “take responsibility” as commander-in-chief and to not “blame others”.
In yesterday’s speech, Biden insisted his administration’s hands were tied by the peace deal “inherited” from Trump.
Having faced his Saigon moment less than a year into his term in office, Biden’s prospects of running in 2024 look slimmer than ever. Even before his inauguration, rumours swirled that his vice president, Kamala Harris would run instead, but she is being damaged by the Afghanistan debacle too.
In April, Harris praised the president’s “courage” for going ahead with the May troop withdrawal and even bragged about her role in the decision.