DES MOINES, Iowa – President Joe Biden addressed the nation about the collapse of the Afghanistan government and the Americans and Afghan allies waiting for an evacuation as the Taliban has captured Kabul.
Biden blamed the Trump administration and the Afghans themselves for what is being called a stain on Biden’s legacy.
“When I came into office, I inherited a deal that President Trump negotiated with the Taliban. Under his agreement, U.S. forces would be out of Afghanistan by May 1, 2021 — just a little over three months after I took office,” he said. “The choice I had to make, as your President, was either to follow through on that agreement or be prepared to go back to fighting the Taliban in the middle of the spring fighting season.”
The Trump administration drew down troops from 15,500 to 2,500.
“There would have been no ceasefire after May 1. There was no agreement protecting our forces after May 1. There was no status quo of stability without American casualties after May 1,” Biden said. “There was only the cold reality of either following through on the agreement to withdraw our forces or escalating the conflict and sending thousands more American troops back into combat in Afghanistan, lurching into the third decade of conflict.”
“Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision. American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” he added.
Biden said he stands by his decision.
U.S. Senator Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, called Biden’s remarks “bad faith spin.”
“After days of avoiding the press and the American people, President Biden’s bad faith spin of his catastrophic exit and gross mishandling of the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan is insulting. The Taliban takeover in Afghanistan is shameful, a sincere tragedy, and a complete leadership failure by this president—and it was all entirely avoidable,” Ernst said. “This mishandled and haphazard withdrawal executed by this president caused so much of the collapse and panic we are witnessing now and is an international embarrassment and a black-eye for our country that will put more Americans and allies in harms’ way while emboldening our adversaries. The president failed to give any specifics on how he plans to get our Afghan friends to safety or to expedite the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program—something I’ve long pushed for on a bipartisan basis.”
“To so many—to my fellow servicemembers and the men and women who served in Afghanistan—it feels like our nation has squandered their tremendous sacrifices. But I want them to hear the words this president has too often failed to say: thank you—we are forever grateful for your sacrifice and that of your families,” she added. “As we move through these tumultuous days, the United States, this administration, must be clear-eyed and straight forward with the American people about what could result from this rushed and mishandled exit: a reinvigorated Taliban in Afghanistan could lead to increased threats of terrorist attacks and endanger our national security.”
After thanking American service members that served in Afghanistan, Hinson said Biden’s remarks lacked clarity.
“In his speech, President Biden did not provide clarity or reassurance to Americans or our allies. The president blamed Afghans instead of taking responsibility for his decisions. A sad chapter in American foreign policy has been capped off by a sad response from our Commander in Chief,” she said.
“It is now clear that the President has no real plan of action to right this wrong, protect American and Afghan lives, and safeguard our homeland from a resurging terrorist threat ahead of the 20 year anniversary of the September 11th terrorist attacks,” Hinson stated.
“We have watched this tragedy unfold on our TVs and newsfeeds the last few days, with no word from our Commander in the Chief. It is evident that the void in leadership at the White House is having catastrophic consequences and will for decades to come. Congress must step forward and demand answers and transparency about the decisions that led to this unfolding catastrophe in Afghanistan,” she added. “We cannot forget the women and young girls in Afghanistan whose lives will now never be the same — the Biden administration has abandoned them in this crisis. They need our help and our prayers.”
Before Biden’s remarks, U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, tweeted, “If President Biden would’ve listened to intel/military leaders he would’ve acted sooner to get Americans & those who helped our military out of Afghanistan & it wouldn’t be the debacle it turned out to be.”
U.S. Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, R-Iowa, tweeted before his speech, “The current situation in Afghanistan is a crisis that was completely avoidable and undermines our position with other allies.”
Before Biden’s address, U.S. Rep. Randy Feenstra, R-Iowa, criticized Biden’s silence as the Taliban quickly took over the country over the last few days.
“President Biden’s continued silence is unbelievable & unacceptable. It’s a dishonor to the men and women who have fought to defend freedom and liberty in Afghanistan for 20 years. This chaotic situation demands a strong leader, and it’s telling that Biden is nowhere to be seen,” he tweeted.
On Facebook on Monday morning, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, D-Iowa, said she was deeply concerned about the events unfolding in Afghanistan.
“I’m deeply concerned at how quickly the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated over the past week – and hope to hear more from our Commander in Chief today on what steps will be taken to ensure the safety of the U.S. forces and their Afghan partners still on the ground,” she said. “We must do everything in our power to uphold our commitments to those Afghans who worked hand-in-hand with our servicemembers to combat terrorism and support U.S. missions over the past 20 years.”
“I’ve supported legislation to expedite the processes that can provide those Afghan partners and their families safety from Taliban retaliation, and we must continue to seek out ways to protect those who have helped us these past two decades,” Axne added.
She also that now is not the time to point fingers.
“There will be a time for us all to reflect on the decisions that were made that led us to this tragic and devastating moment, but right now we must stay focused on helping those who are still in harm’s way,” Axne said.