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President Joe Biden’s first interview since the disaster in Afghanistan was itself a unmitigated disaster, with the president recklessly mixing up the facts, coldly blaming others for the catastrophe and, worse, completely denying reality.
Speaking with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday in an interview set to be fully released Thursday, the president was asked point-blank why this happened: “[W]as it a failure of intelligence, planning, execution or judgement?”
Instead of taking an iota of responsibility, the president promptly shifted the blame onto the Afghans themselves.
(Video: ABC News)
“Look, it was a simple choice, George. 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 Afghan troops we have trained, of the 300,000 of them, just leaving their equipment and taking off … that’s what happened. That’s simply what happened,” he said.
It was also a “simple choice” when he, the president of the United States, chose to remove the logistical support out from underneath the Afghan military without first teaching them how to conduct their own logistics.
“Americans trained the Afghans to fight as we do, not like the Afghans used to, so they became reliant on our methods, tactics, and equipment, including air support and a complex system of military units that requires an exhaustive command and communications network,” according to The Bulwark.
But when the president “abruptly announced our pending withdrawal” last spring, he also withdrew the Afghans’ logistical support.
“On top of the 3,500 American members of the military, 17,000 more military contractors stopped assisting the Afghans more or less overnight. The Afghan military lost the equivalent of two logistics divisions, without the time to adjust to the new reality,” The Bulwark notes.
Biden withdrew US logistical support which enabled them to stay in the field, doing the fighting, so they collapsed. Despite the fact that there was *no* functional danger to US troops by remaining and providing that support. Stability thrown away for why, for Trump’s “deal”?
— Louise Mensch, M.A. (@LouiseMensch) August 17, 2021
Stephanopoulos responded to the finger-pointing and denial by drawing the president’s attention to the horrifying video footage of “Afghans falling” from a C-17 jet they’d desperately clung on to as it’d taken off.
“That was four days ago, five days ago,” Biden angrily responded, seemingly without a care in the world for the lives lost.
For clarification, the footage was recorded Monday — only two days prior to the president’s interview with ABC News.
— Ian Miles Cheong @ stillgray.substack.com (@stillgray) August 19, 2021
— Caesar (@Caesar63BC) August 18, 2021
The Atlantic: The cruelty is the point.
“These betrayals of people in foreign lands seem to leave Biden unmoved. There is a troubling callousness to it all, a callousness that’s at odds with empathy that Biden has clearly shown in other areas of his life” https://t.co/NgBSyvvrpO
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) August 18, 2021
“What did you think when you first saw those pictures?” Stephanopoulos then asked.
“What I thought was, we have to gain control of this. 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,” the president responded without emotion.
With this fact established by Biden himself, Stephanopoulos then pressed him one more time about why this happened.
“So you don’t think this could have been handled — this exit could have been handled better in any way, no mistakes?” he asked.
Stunningly, the president doubled down.
“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. I don’t know how that happened,” he said.
This glaring denial of reality provoked massive backlash, with even some media figures (but reportedly no Democrats) joining the pile-on:
Tom Cotton: “Joe Biden is as dishonest as he is impotent.”
Nikki Haley: “This is such a slap in the face to the thousands of Americans still in Afghanistan. He had no plan, he has no urgency, and he won’t take responsibility. #Shameful”
Liz Cheney: “A truly ignorant and shameful performance by an American president.”
Robby Starbuck: “Joe Biden thinks that the withdrawal from Afghanistan couldn’t have been handled any better. Seriously. Biden is just a terrible leader. At any Chick-fil-A in the country right now you could find a more competent manager to run our country.”
Piers Morgan: “Biden’s failure to even admit to his catastrophic mistake, when the whole world has watched the disaster unfurl on live TV, is both breathtakingly arrogant & disturbingly delusional. He either doesn’t care or is in denial.”
Brian Kilmeade: “[W]atch this…and understand he believes what he is saying which is scarier then if he was lying….leaving Americans in country while military got out! Sending marines back in, leaving embassy and bagram airport..no regrets? Omg..we are so screwed.”
But it got worse. Asked by Stephanopoulos whether he’s willing to keep Americans troops stationed in Afghanistan past Aug. 31st “if Americans and our Afghan allies are still trying to get out,” the president demurred.
“We’re going to do everything in our power to get all Americans out and our allies out,” the president replied without directly answering the question.
“Does that mean troops will stay beyond August 31st if necessary?” Stephanopoulos tried pressing once again.
Biden responded that “it depends” …
“It depends on where we are and whether we can get — ramp these numbers up to five to seven thousand a day coming out. If that’s the case, they’ll all be out,” he said.
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