President Joe Biden on Tuesday took responsibility for the "extraordinary success" of the military withdrawal from Afghanistan, which he simultaneously denounced as a failure due to the actions of his predecessor, former president Donald Trump, as well as the cowardly Afghan people who refused to fight for their country.
In a nationally televised address from the White House, the president bragged that the frantic evacuation from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul was even more successful than what "most experts thought [was] possible." Biden defended his decision to chaotically evacuate Americans as the Taliban rapidly advanced toward the airport as "the right decision, a wise decision, and the best decision for America."
However, Biden argued, the optics wouldn't have been so bad if the Afghan people weren't a bunch of cowards afraid to fight, or if Trump hadn't ruined everything by deciding to withdraw in the first place. On the other hand, the Biden administration expected everything to go badly, so actually the chaotic withdrawal went exactly "as designed"—even though 13 service members lost their lives, and hundreds of Americans were left behind.
"That assumption, that the Afghan government would be able to hold on for a period of time beyond military drawdown, turned out not to be accurate," Biden said. "But I still instructed our national security team to prepare for every eventuality, even that one. And that's what we did. So we were ready when the Afghan security forces, after two decades of fighting for their country and losing thousands of their own, did not hold on as long as anyone expected."
Even though the mission to withdraw U.S. troops and evacuate American citizens, as well as Afghan allies, went according to plan, Biden suggested that Trump was largely responsible for the anticipated debacle. "My predecessor, the former president, signed an agreement with the Taliban to remove U.S. troops by May 1, just months after I was inaugurated," Biden said. "By the time I came to office, the Taliban was in its strongest military position since 2001."
Trump’s decision to end the war in Afghanistan was the right one, Biden argued, but also the wrong one. "I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit," he said, inscrutably. "I take responsibility for the decision."
The swiftness of the Taliban onslaught, which was not anticipated but also planned for extensively, was inevitable because of Trump, whose correct decision regarding Afghanistan was also inexorably flawed. "Why did we have to change anything?" Biden asked in reference to his predecessor's plan. "The fact is, everything had changed."
"As we turn the page on the foreign policy that has guided our nation for the last two decades, we have got to learn from our mistakes," Biden said, after refusing to acknowledge any mistakes made by his administration. Once again, the president invoked the name of his son, Beau Biden, who served in Iraq and died from brain cancer in 2015. Americans should take comfort in the fact, Biden argued, that his administration did nothing wrong.
"I give you my word with all my heart," Biden said. "My predecessor had made a deal with the Taliban."