After 20 years of fighting, thousands of American lives lost, and billions of U.S. dollars spent, the Taliban reclaimed Afghanistan on Sunday, bringing America’s longest war to a tragic and humiliating end.
As critics piled on Joe Biden over America’s chaotic withdrawal, the president conceded Monday that he underestimated how quickly Kabul would fall.
Biden blindsided by the fall of Kabul
As the Taliban advanced on Kabul Sunday morning, Secretary of State Antony Blinken had told reporters that the White House expected the Afghan government to put up more resistance, Al Jazeera reported.
Biden, in a speech to the American people on Monday, also indicated he was blindsided by the Taliban victory. “The truth is this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,” Biden said, according to the Associated Press.
The bewildering rapidity of the fall defied the predictions of U.S. experts, who said just days before that Kabul could hold for 90 days, Reuters reported.
Instead, after 20 years of U.S. intervention, Afghanistan’s government collapsed in about a week as the Taliban captured one city after the next.
Biden had planned to have all troops out by Aug. 31, according to Breitbart, but he dispatched thousands over the weekend to aid Americans desperately evacuating the embassy by helicopter, a scenario which Biden insisted only weeks before would never come to pass.
Responding to criticism
As the panicked exit unfolded, critics slammed Biden for what they called a botched withdrawal that left American personnel and allies in the lurch and which allowed the Taliban to seize American arms and equipment, according to reports.
For many, the devastating scenes evoked the fall of Saigon. Indeed, the crushing realization that America’s longest war had ended in defeat left many questioning whether the sacrifice of the 2,448 Americans who died in the conflict was worth it.
As Americans watched the Taliban victory unfold, Biden said in a brief statement Sunday that he had no regrets about ending the war and blamed Donald Trump, who initiated the withdrawal of American forces, and the cowardice of the Afghan army for the chaos.
Even before Kabul fell, critics accused Biden of being absent in a moment of crisis as he vacationed at Camp David. Back at the White House on Monday, Biden said that the collapse of Afghanistan’s army proved that prolonging the war would have been fruitless.
“American troops cannot and should not be fighting the war, and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” he said, according to the AP.