As the United States and allied nations continue their attempt to evacuate thousands of their citizens and Afghan allies from the Kabul airport, the $64,000 question is whether President Joe Biden will extend his arbitrarily set withdrawal deadline of Aug. 31 if the evacuation mission is not finished.
It has now become apparent that Biden will not extend the deadline even if American and allied citizens remain in need of evacuation, as he has already begun to draw down the level of troops sent in to assist those evacuations, The Daily Wire reported.
This comes as allied leaders pleaded with Biden for more time to get their people out but the Taliban said they wouldn’t permit an extension, meaning Biden has acquiesced to the wishes of the militant Islamist group over those of our nation’s closest allies.
Troop drawdown begins
CNN reported Tuesday that, according to two unnamed Pentagon officials, U.S. troops and equipment have already begun to be withdrawn from Kabul in advance of the Aug. 31 deadline, though the bulk of those sent in to guard the airport and facilitate the evacuations remain in place.
“So far, the reduction does not affect the mission,” one of the officials said. “If you can have a smaller mission set and still conduct the mission, then you can reduce your footprint and reduce your risk.”
The primary reason cited for ending the mission by the self-imposed deadline — regardless of whether everybody in need of evacuation has left yet — is the growing risk that the troops and civilians crowded at the airport will be targeted in attacks, either by the Taliban or the active terror organizations in Afghanistan, such as Al Qaeda or the Islamic State group affiliate known as ISIS-K.
Kowtowing to the Taliban
The apparent insistence on sticking with the Aug. 31 deadline contradicts what Biden had said a week earlier in an interview with ABC News‘ George Stephanopoulos during which Biden replied affirmatively when asked if he would order U.S. troops to remain in Afghanistan until all evacuations were completed.
Though Biden repeatedly stated that his intention was to have all civilians and troops withdrawn by the deadline, he ultimately agreed that “if there’s American citizens left, we’re gonna stay to get them all out.”
The decision to stick with the deadline also flies in the face of requests for an extension by America’s allies, especially the United Kingdom, as Prime Minister Boris Johnson reportedly pleaded for more time to conduct evacuations during an emergency meeting of G7 leaders Tuesday, according to Politico.
Yet, while U.S. allies plead for more time, Taliban spokesman Suhail Shaheen made it clear that any extension of the withdrawal date would be a “red line” and unacceptable. “If the U.S. or U.K. were to seek additional time to continue evacuations, the answer is no,” Shaheen said. “Or there would be consequences.”
“Damn the deadline”
Biden’s decision to side with the Taliban over U.S. allies has not sat well with members of Congress, including Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE), who said in a statement according to Fox News, “Damn the deadline. The American people are not going to surrender our fellow citizens to the Taliban. Americans want us to stay until we get our people out, and so do our allies. The Biden administration needs to cut the Stockholm syndrome.”
“If President Biden accepts the Taliban’s terms he’ll be the one holding the shovel in Afghanistan’s ‘graveyard of empires,'” the senator added. “Mr. President, tell the Taliban we’re getting our people out however long it takes, and that we’re perfectly willing to spill Taliban, al Qaeda, and ISIS blood to do it.”