'Every Place Where Al-Qaeda is, We’re Going to Invade?': Biden Defends Afghanistan Withdrawal
There has been broad bipartisan criticism of the Biden administration’s handling of the situation in Afghanistan, with scathing censure coming from Republicans and Democrats alike, who have decried the haphazard manner of the pullout, which they believe "should have been carefully planned to prevent violence and instability".
US President Joe Biden defended the widely-criticised “chaotic” withdrawal from Afghanistan on Saturday during a visit to the Pennsylvania site of one of the 9/11 plane crashes. Biden visited all three sites of the September 11 attacks as the nation marked the 20th anniversary
of those deadly events.
The President was asked if he felt the current 9/11 anniversary had come at a “new phase”, as there are no longer US troops present in Afghanistan. Biden responded by saying that American troops should not have stayed on in the South Asian country after Osama Bin Laden had been eliminated.
“Could Al-Qaeda* come back (in Afghanistan)? Yeah. But guess what, it’s already back other places. What’s the strategy? Every place where Al-Qaeda is, we’re going to invade and have troops stay in? C’mon,” said the POTUS in an exchange with reporters outside a Shanksville, Pennsylvania, fire station.
The president, who has been under fire for his administration’s handling of the Afghan pullout, weighed in on the criticism, saying:
“It’s hard to explain to anybody, how else could you get out… For example, if we were in Tajikistan and pulled up a C-130 and said we’re going to let, you know, anybody who was involved with being sympathetic to us to get on the plane, you’d have people hanging in the wheel well. C’mon.”
The 46th American president began the day by attending a memorial event at ground zero in New York with first lady Jill Biden and former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former first lady Michelle Obama.
He then travelled to the Flight 93 memorial in Shanksville, Pennsylvania for a wreath-laying ceremony, before visiting the local fire department. Biden later participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Pentagon.
‘Bad Planning, Incredible Weakness’
Earlier, Biden’s predecessor, ex-President Donald Trump reiterated his heavy criticism
of the US pullout in his 9/11 video address timed to the anniversary events.
“The leader of our country was made to look like a fool, and that can never be allowed to happen. It was caused by bad planning, incredible weakness and leaders who truly didn’t understand what was happening,” Trump said.
He added that while the 20th anniversary of the events dating to September 11, 2001 should have been a tribute to victory, honour and strength, “Joe Biden and his inept administration surrendered in defeat.”
Trump deplored the billions of dollars in US military equipment abandoned in Afghanistan and seized by the Taliban "without a shot being fired".
“We will struggle to recover from the embarrassment this incompetence has caused," said Donald Trump.
A bipartisan chorus of voices has censured the Biden administration
for its handling of the Afghanistan issue.
“I think what is very clear for all Americans, now that the Biden administration made a political decision against what was good intelligence information that they had, is what was occurring in Afghanistan,” said Rep. Bryan Steil, R-Janesville, on August 25. He added that Biden “continues to try to pass the buck for this decision.”
“But there was a conditions based withdrawal negotiated by President Trump and President Biden made the decision and failed on the execution of this withdrawal,” emphasised Rep. Steil.
Democratic senators, like Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., a member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, said the withdrawal of US troops "should have been carefully planned to prevent violence and instability".
The US troop pullout from Afghanistan was begun by Joe Biden on 1 May, originally to be concluded by September 11th, the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 events that prompted America to invade the war-torn country.
The swift pullout opened the way for the Taliban* Islamist group to launch an offensive that toppled the western-supported Kabul government. The militant group seized the capital, Kabul, on August 15, prompting the US and NATO to begin a massive evacuation of citizens, embassy staff and vulnerable locals ahead of Biden's self-imposed 31 August deadline.
Amid the frantic rush to leave the country, terrorist attacks
claimed by a Daesh* affiliate killed scores of Afghan citizens and 13 US soldiers. Controversy has been triggered by the US retaliation for the attack, as the Pentagon said it had targeted an alleged Daesh-operative in its recent drone strike in Kabul. However, an investigative piece
in The New York Times claimed the strike had mistakenly killed an Afghani aid worker and his seven children on August 29th.
*Terrorist organisations banned in Russia and many other states