President Joe Biden reportedly overruled the advice of his top military officials when ordering the United States’s pullout from Afghanistan.
Biden met with several top military commanders before announcing his intent to withdraw the United States completely from Afghanistan. The generals recommended Biden leave a force of 2,500 servicemen in the country and step up negotiations with the Taliban for a peace deal. The president declined their advice.
As The Wall Street Journal reports:
In contrast to the numerous Trump policies he reversed, he opted to carry out Mr. Trump’s deal with the Taliban instead of trying to renegotiate it. In so doing, he overruled his top military commanders: Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East; Gen. Austin Scott Miller, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan; and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Citing the risks of removing American forces to Afghan security and the U.S. Embassy, they recommended that the U.S. keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan while stepping up diplomacy to try to cement a peace agreement.
The Afghanistan government is quickly crumbling. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country Sunday morning as Taliban militants entered Kabul, the nation’s capital city. The Taliban and what is left of the government are negotiating a transfer of power.
The United States is evacuating and abandoning its embassy in Kabul. U.S. personnel and officials are using Kabul’s airport to fly out of the country, though evacuation plans descended further into chaos on Sunday when the embassy released a statement warning Americans in Kabul to “shelter in place.”
“We are instructing U.S. citizens to shelter in place,” the embassy said. “The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has suspended consular operations effective immediately. Do not come to the Embassy or airport at this time.”
“The security situation in Kabul is changing quickly and the situation at the airport is deteriorating rapidly. There are reports of the airport taking fire and we are instructing U.S. citizens to shelter in place,” the statement continued. “The U.S. Embassy in Afghanistan has suspended consular operations effective immediately. Do not come to the Embassy or airport at this time.”
“U.S. citizens needing assistance in departing the country should register for any option that might be identified to return to the United States,” the statement said.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken went on several networks Sunday defending the Afghanistan withdrawal against heavy criticism and allegations that the chaos is reminiscent of the U.S. pullout of Saigon in 1975. He also contended that the evacuation from Kabul was “orderly.”
“Here’s the choice the president faced, again, remember that a deadline was established by the previous administration of May 1st to get our remaining forces out of Afghanistan and the idea that we could’ve sustained the status quo by keeping our forces there, I think, is wrong, because here’s what would have happened if the president decided to keep those forces there,” Blinken said in an interview on ABC. “During the period from when the agreement was reached to May 1st, that Taliban had ceased attacking our forces ceased attacking NATO forces. It had also held off on this major offensive that we see now to try to take over the country to go for these provincial capitols, which in recent weeks it has succeeded in doing.”
“Come May 2nd, if the President decided to say — all gloves would have been off. We would have been back at war with the Taliban. They would have been attacking our forces. We would have had 2,500 or so forces remaining in the country with airpower,” he continued.