Officials in Joe Biden’s administration are “absolutely appalled” and “horrified” that the US evacuation of Afghanistan failed to airlift all US citizens out of the country before troops were taken off the ground, it has emerged.
A White House official told Politico that Biden had “failed” at a “no-fail mission” during the withdrawal, adding that the evacuation was “a hostage rescue of thousands of Americans in the guise of an NEO [noncombatant evacuation operations]”.
“I am absolutely appalled and literally horrified we left Americans there,” they added.
Subscribe to The Week
Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.
The criticism came as Biden sought to “shift blame” over the chaotic evacuation, the news site said, “brushing off criticism about the way the war ended” when he yesterday told reporters: “I give you my word with all of my heart, I believe this is the right decision, the wise decision, and the best decision for America.”
Asked about the “hundred-plus American citizens who didn’t make it out”, the news site added, Biden continued that they were given “multiple warnings and offers to help them leave Afghanistan, all the way back as far as March”.
“The bottom line is, there is no evacuation from the end of a war that you can run without the kinds of complexities, challenges, threats we faced,” he said.
Since the last military flight departed, a “blame game” has begun over who is responsible for the rushed effort, reported Reuters. “The Biden administration’s scramble was emblematic of failures over the past month”, the news agency added, “which culminated with a hastily organized airlift that left thousands of US-allied Afghans behind”.
The evacuation is one of the largest airlift operations in history and saw more than 120,000 Americans, Afghans and people of other nationalities taken out of the country.
However, “finger-pointing is an ugly Washington sport”, according to Dan Fried, a former senior US diplomat now at the Atlantic Council think tank. He told Reuters that “in this case, fingers could be pointed in all directions and probably be right in each case”.
“A failure like this is collective. Everybody screwed up,” he added.
In attempting to distance his administration from the chaotic scenes at Hamid Karzai International Airport, Biden has sought to paint the evacuation as an “extraordinary success”, adding in a speech at the White House that “no nation has ever done anything like it in all of history; only the US had the capacity and the will and ability to do it”.
The last US plane departed on Monday, however, the president had “set Tuesday as a deadline for ending the evacuation and pulling out remaining troops after the Taliban took over the country”.
Continue reading for free
We hope you're enjoying The Week's refreshingly open-minded journalism.
Subscribed to The Week? Register your account with the same email as your subscription.