In his first sit-down interview after Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, President Joe Biden avouched to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos that American forces would stay on until all U.S. citizens who wanted to leave the country were able to get out.
“Americans should understand that we’re gonna try to get it done before Aug. 31,” Biden said.
“But if we don’t, the troops will stay?” Stephanopulos asked.
“If we don’t, we’ll determine at the time who’s left,” Biden said. “If there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay to get ’til we get them all out.”
BIDEN ON 8/19: “If there are American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out.”
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) August 30, 2021
As of Monday, the American military mission in Afghanistan is over. The final C-17 has taken off from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul and 20 years of U.S. presence in the country has ended.
Except, according to ABC News, up to 250 Americans who want to leave Afghanistan still remain in the country.
That revelation came during a news conference by U.S. Central Command head Gen. Frank McKenzie on Sunday confirming the withdrawal.
As the network’s Connor Finnegan reported in a Twitter post, while McKenzie said the “vast majority” of American citizens in the country were evacuated, a State Department official had pegged the number at about 250.
CENTCOM Gen McKenzie says US evacuation effort evacuated “vast majority” of US citizens in Afghanistan—but some left behind. A sr State Dept official told reporters this afternoon less than 250 US citizens wanted to get out and were still in Afghanistan https://t.co/6JZlriUMVo
— Conor Finnegan (@cjf39) August 30, 2021
According to McKenzie, this was because they couldn’t make it to the airport — a problem one surmises had something to do with Taliban checkpoints and other security risks.
“No American citizens came out on the last, what we call the joint tactical exfiltration, the last five jets to leave,” McKenzie said, about the 11-minute mark in the video below.
“We maintain the ability to bring them in up until immediately before departure, but we were not able to bring any Americans out. That activity ended probably about 12 hours before our exit.
“Although we continue the outreach and would have been prepared to bring them on until the very last minute, but none of them made it to the airport and were able to be accommodated.”
During the news conference, he said the number of Americans left behind was “in the low, very low hundreds.”
“So, the military phase of this operation is ended. The diplomatic sequel to that will now begin,” McKenzie said about the 16-minute mark.
“And I believe our Department of State is going to work very hard to allow any American citizens that were left, and we think the citizens that were not brought out, number in the low, very low hundreds, I believe that we’re going to be able to get those people out, I think we’re also going to negotiate very hard and very aggressively to get our other Afghan partners out.
“The military phase is over, but our desire to bring these people out remains as intense as it was before. The weapons have just shifted, if you will, from the military realm to the diplomatic realm and the Department of State will now take the lead on that.”
However, as ABC News’ Ben Siegel noted, “low, very low hundreds” could mean up to 250 Americans.
As many as 250 Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan were left behind https://t.co/ijrYZ147ny
— Ben Siegel (@bensiegel) August 30, 2021
Moreover, McKenzie seemed to acknowledge U.S. forces no longer had the ability to safely evacuate our own citizens, despite what Biden promised.
“Look, there’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure,” McKenzie said about the 21:30 mark. “We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out, but I think if we’d stayed another 10 days … we wouldn’t have gotten everybody out that we wanted to get out.”
Americans are still over there.https://t.co/RqJF4LZVPq
— Wendy Rogers (@WendyRogersAZ) August 30, 2021
The question has to be asked, then: On the fall of Afghanistan and the subsequent evacuation of American troops and civilians, were President Biden and his administration lying, incompetent or impotent?
After all, Biden said it himself: The troops would be staying until all our citizens were safe. He deployed 5,000 troops amid the fall of Afghanistan earlier in the month, after all.
He could have known all along he had no intention of keeping his word and keeping them deployed until every last American was headed home.
That would mean Biden was lying.
Perhaps they bungled it. That’s not out of the question; so much of what happened over the past few weeks was sheer incompetence.
Or, perhaps the situation was so far gone that we were powerless — that no matter how long we stayed, we couldn’t get Americans out due to the Taliban and other terror threats. So the world’s most powerful country, with the most powerful military in history, was impotent to save its own citizens.
So, what does Joe Biden have to say about Afghanistan now?
This man runs at the mention of being held accountable on tough issues that he bares responsibility for.
Joe no questions Biden pic.twitter.com/VEoTcT3LDB
— PARIS (@PARISDENNARD) August 29, 2021
After agreeing to take questions while visiting Federal Emergency Management Headquarters in Washington, D.C., on Sunday, he told a reporter, “I’m not gonna answer on Afghanistan now” and tottered away.
Less than two weeks ago, Biden was talking tough on Afghanistan. Now, he’s not talking at all. Why should we be surprised?
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