Some have speculated that Vice President Kamala Harris decided to go ahead with her planned tour of Southeast Asia this week as a way to avoid having to talk about the ongoing crisis in Afghanistan. If that was, in fact, her plan, it didn’t quite work out.
As Mediaite reported, Harris had the embarrassing experience of hearing Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong comment on just how badly the withdrawal from Afghanistan has gone, so far.
Lee made his remarks during a joint press conference on Sunday after a reporter asked how Singapore would “work with the United States as it completes its mission in Afghanistan.”
“What will influence perceptions of U.S. resolve and commitment to the region will be what the U.S. does going forward: how it repositions itself in the region, how it engages its broad range of friends and partners and allies in the region, and how it continues the fight against terrorism,” the Asian leader responded.
“Countries make calculations and take positions, and they have to make recalculations and adjust their positions from time to time,” the prime minister continued.
Loong went on to add: “Sometimes it can be done smoothly. Sometimes there are hiccups. Sometimes things go awry and take time to put right.”
Harris was also asked what she would tell America’s allies about the situation, but chose to sidestep the question and instead focused on her Asian junket.
“The reason I am here is because the United States is a global leader, and we take that role seriously,” Harris responded.
“This visit, combined with the agreements we have made and the work we continue to do as a nation to reinforce our commitment to these relationships, I believe, speak volumes to the integrity of the relationships the United States has around the world,” the vice president added.
Tony Blair weighs in
To say that America’s pullout from Afghanistan has proven to be a humiliating disaster would be something of an understatement, as viral images have shown Afghans falling to their death from departing aircraft and desperate women attempting to throw their babies over razor wire.
What’s more, thousands of Americans remain stranded behind Taliban lines, with Fox News reporting that National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN on Sunday that the Biden administration still has no clear idea as to how many Americans are still left in the Taliban-controlled country.
Lee’s comments were mild compared to those of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who was quoted by the Associated Press on Monday as saying President Joe Biden’s performance had been “imbecilic.”