During his speech at the White House on Monday, President Biden deflected from the current debacle in Afghanistan that his administration helped create by sticking to a carefully written script about how America’s involvement had to end now and not a moment later. President Trump, however, dismissed Biden’s rhetoric, noting that it failed to acknowledge his administration’s hand in botching the U.S. withdrawal from the region.
“It’s not that we left Afghanistan,” Trump said in a statement. “It’s the grossly incompetent way we left!”
President Biden departed from his vacation at Camp David and returned to the White House on Monday to speak about the current crisis unfolding in Afghanistan. While Biden acknowledged that the Taliban’s takeover of Kabul happened sooner than intelligence officials anticipated, the president was resolute about his decision and method of withdrawal.
“I am president of the United States and the buck stops with me,” he said. “I’m deeply saddened by the facts we now face but I do not regret my decision to end America’s warfighting in Afghanistan.”
Biden also blamed Afghan forces for failing to adequately defend themselves against the Taliban despite two decades of training and advanced military equipment.
“American troops cannot – and should not – be fighting in a war—and dying in a war—that the Afghans are not willing to fight for themselves,” he said.
Biden also rejected the neoconservative notion of “nation-building,” which led to an American military presence in Afghanistan for nearly 20 years:
Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation-building. It was never supposed to be creating a unified, centralized democracy. Our only vital national interest in Afghanistan remains today what it has always been: preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland.
“There was only a 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,” he added. “I stand squarely behind my decision.”
Trump’s knock on Biden’s speech comes after he called for the current president’s resignation, accusing him of running “out of Afghanistan instead of following the plan our Administration left for him.”:
Joe Biden gets it wrong every time on foreign policy, and many other issues. Everyone knew he couldn’t handle the pressure. Even Obama’s Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, said as much. He ran out of Afghanistan instead of following the plan our Administration left for him — a plan that protected our people and our property, and ensured the Taliban would never dream of taking our Embassy or providing a base for new attacks against America. The withdrawal would be guided by facts on the ground.
After I took out ISIS, I established a credible deterrent. That deterrent is now gone. The Taliban no longer has fear or respect for America, or America’s power. What a disgrace it will be when the Taliban raises their flag over America’s Embassy in Kabul. This is complete failure through weakness, incompetence, and total strategic incoherence.
While Biden’s speech landed well with some of his core supporters, certain members of the mainstream media were anything but impressed. CNN’s Jake Tapper, for instance, said it amounted to little more than “finger-pointing and blame.”
“The president said that the buck stopped with him, but, in fact, the speech was full of finger-pointing and blame, especially for the Afghans,” said Tapper.
Follow Paul Bois on Twitter @Paulbois39