Critics hammered President Joe Biden on Sunday for his silence and absence from Washington, D.C., as Taliban militants overrun Kabul and takeover Afghanistan for the first time in two decades.
Biden ordered a complete pullout of the U.S. from Afghanistan in April. In the past week, the Taliban has conquered multiple major cities across the country and entered the nation’s capital of Kabul. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled on Sunday morning, all but sealing the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan.
While the Taliban have blitzed across Afghanistan in the wake of U.S. military forces pulling out, Biden has been absent from Washington. The president left the capital on Thursday for Camp David, the presidential retreat, and has been there since. Biden, notably, did not take questions from reporters about Afghanistan before he left.
“Why is Joe Biden in hiding? He should immediately address the nation and answer for the catastrophic situation in Afghanistan. Conference calls between cabinet secretaries and senators don’t cut it in a crisis,” Sen Tom Cotton (R-AR) said.
“America’s in crisis. Afghanistan’s in chaos. Why’s Joe Biden on vacation?” Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) posted.
Rep. Jim Banks (R-IN) added: “On the conference call briefing for members of Congress with Biden officials. It’s clear the Biden administration was caught unprepared, didn’t anticipate this catastrophe and the President is hiding & asleep at the wheel.”
Biden defended himself in a statement released on Saturday as the Taliban were closing in on the capital city of Kabul. In the 600-word statement, he announced an additional surge of U.S. troops into Afghanistan to facilitate that American pullout and several other steps the U.S. is taking to avoid American casualties. Biden also blamed former President Donald Trump for the chaos of the U.S. pulling out of Afghanistan.
“When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor—which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019—that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021 deadline on U.S. Forces. Shortly before he left office, he also drew U.S. Forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500,” Biden said. “Therefore, when I became President, I faced a choice—follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our Forces and our allies’ Forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict. I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan—two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth.”
On Sunday, the White House tweeted a photo of Biden in a situation room at Camp David, listening intently as he was briefed about the “drawdown” in Afghanistan. The tweet does not mention the deteriorating situation on the ground.
This morning, the President and Vice President met with their national security team and senior officials to hear updates on the draw down of our civilian personnel in Afghanistan, evacuations of SIV applicants and other Afghan allies, and the ongoing security situation in Kabul. pic.twitter.com/U7IpK3Hyj8
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) August 15, 2021
The Afghanistan government has collapsed, effectively cementing the Taliban’s rule over the country, the first time the Taliban has been in such a position in the past two decades since the U.S. invaded Afghanistan in 2001. The Taliban is expected to announce that Afghanistan is now the “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan” on Sunday night.
“Many of the diplomats and American staff in Afghanistan were evacuated by helicopter overnight and taken to the Kabul airport where they await military flights from the region, in scenes that were reminiscent of the final evacuation of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War,” The Daily Wire reported. “The U.S. Embassy lowered its flag as officials moved their diplomatic operations to Kabul airport.”