By most accounts, President Joe Biden’s planned exit from Afghanistan amounted to — at best — a failure to address what many are now saying should have been obvious contingencies.
And if that weren’t bad enough, every effort Biden has made since to either defend or explain his decision has only served to inspired more questions — about everything from the decision itself to the president’s fitness to serve.
So here it is, the week that was:
- Biden, just days after pulling all remaining American soldiers from the ground in Afghanistan, was forced to send more in to assist in evacuating the United States Embassy in Kabul. He took this action just days after declaring that the United States government would not be reduced to evacuating the embassy by helicopter as it had in Saigon.
- Biden left for a brief vacation at Camp David on Friday, even as news reports indicated Afghanistan’s government was hanging on by the thinnest of threads. The Taliban had already taken a series of key provincial capitals — including Kandahar — and were hours from marching on the capital city of Kabul. The United Nations issued a stern warning, calling on the Taliban to stop the offensive.
- Meghan McCain lashed out at Biden, acknowledging the fact that many believed getting out of Afghanistan was the right move for the United States but criticizing him both for taking a vacation while Afghanistan burned and for leaving allies and interpreters behind.
- The Taliban ignored warnings from the UN and marched on Kabul by Sunday — while Afghan President Ashraf Ghani absconded with over $160 million in cash, only to resurface in the United Arab Emirates a day later.
- White House press secretary Jen Psaki, also on vacation, could not be reached to address the situation and Biden remained at Camp David until Monday afternoon, at which point he planned to address the nation regarding the still unfolding situation.
- Former Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker, who served in the role during former President Barack Obama’s administration, spoke out ahead of Biden’s speech. He said that Biden’s actions in Afghanistan left him with “some grave questions” about whether or not Biden was fit to lead the country as commander in chief.
- Biden’s speech did little to assuage people’s concerns — he systematically blamed former President Donald Trump, the Afghan military and political leaders on the ground in Afghanistan. He claimed to take responsibility for making the decision to leave the country, but made no effort to address just how disastrous that exit had been. And he took no questions.
- Biden went back to Camp David despite continued criticism, returning only to give an address about the growing need for COVID-19 booster shots. He did not address Afghanistan or the thousands of Americans and allies still stranded there — and again, he took no questions.
- Biden followed that with an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that, if possible, made things worse.
- And all of this unfolded just weeks after Biden called the possibility that the Taliban would not take over the country “highly unlikely.”