Update(4:52ET): Biden Afghanistan speech post-mortem...
In what was widely being described as the most important and anticipated speech so far of his presidency, given the magnitude of horrific images the world beheld coming out of Kabul on Monday, Biden's words can be summed up with the main theme of shouldering off the blame to the Afghan people, Trump, and prior administrations (though conveniently not Obama of course).
He took no questions even as the press corps erupted in urgent questions, walked away and the video feed was abruptly cut. Filled with smoke and mirror talk of "graveyard of empires" (as if Biden has been reborn as a noninterventionist Libertarian or something), two-thirds of the way in he briefly admitted the main issue at hand over the past 48 hours, bluntly acknowledging that the country's collapse "did unfold more quickly than we anticipated"...Well, yes - and all while you were on vacation at Camp David Mr. President.
"I stand squarely behind my decision," Biden began the remarks from the East Room. "After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces." But in terms of learning the "hard way" - a number of pundits noted the "ice cold indifference" to the monumental human suffering the world continues to behold unfolding there.
We went in to Afghanistan with clear goals? We were not there for nation-building?— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) August 16, 2021
This speech is already not going well.
"The choice I had to make as your president was to follow through with that agreement, or to go back to be prepared to go back to fighting the Taliban in the middle of the spring fighting season," he added.
"Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to be nation-building," Biden asserted, though we seem to recall pretty much every president since Bush kicked off the 20+ year long fiasco speak precisely of "democracy promotion" and "bringing women's rights to Afghanistan" etc etc...
And then this: "I know my decision will be criticized. But I would rather take all that criticism than pass this decision on to another president of the United States, yet another one, a fifth one."
Again, nowhere did he address the fact that the US had months and years to prepare for draw down, with The New York Times now reporting that Biden was warned of what would hapen:
Pentagon officials had warned the White House about delaying a drawdown or full evacuation of American personnel from Afghanistan.
Biden continued, "We have made it clear to the Taliban. If they attack our personnel or disrupt our operation, the U.S. presence will be swift and the response will be swift and forceful."
Wow. Biden's speech is atrocious. He's going all out blaming Afghans for their plight, saying they don't have the will to fight for their own future— Shadi Hamid (@shadihamid) August 16, 2021
"How many more generations of America's daughters and sons would you have me send to fight Afghanistan's civil war when Afghan troops will not? How many more lives, American lives, is it worth, how many endless rows of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery?"
"I'm clear in my answer. I will not repeat the mistakes we've made in the past. The mistake of staying and fighting indefinitely in a conflict that is not in the national interest of the United States," he went on.
He asserted that the US would no longer fight wars "not in our national security interest. It is not what the American people want. It is not what our troops who have sacrificed so much over the past two decades deserve."
However, ironically he made comparisons to places like Syria, where he has chosen to keep nearly 1,000 troops illegally occupying the oil fields of the eastern part of the country. Syria is also a place where the US has supported jihadists that are little different than the Taliban.
JUST IN - Biden blames Trump, Afghanistan's former president, and the Afghan forces for the current dramatic situation on the ground. He ended his speech without taking questions.— Disclose.tv 🚨 (@disclosetv) August 16, 2021
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Having been largely silent in the last few days as the disaster erupts in Afghanistan, it appears President Biden has ignored the reported advice of Dr. Jill - that he doesn't need to return from Camp David and can project his power from anywhere - and is returning to the White House from Camp David and deliver an address on the crisis in Afghanistan at 3:45 p.m. ET, following the collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban's declaration of victory.
Having been proven completely incorrect on his recent projections on what would happen after the US military withdrawal...
This may become the most infamous — and devastating — press conference ever held by an American President. pic.twitter.com/j4kKwyPDVm— BDW (@BryanDeanWright) August 15, 2021
The question is - what will he say?
Will he admit the total failure of US intelligence in seeing this devastating credibility-crushing move by the Taliban?
Will be admit that this is exactly the "Saigon" moment for his administration?
Will Ghani and his military be thrown under the bus as cowards?
Will he deflect, blame Trump, and call the actions "inevitable"?
Note that White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday that Biden did not believe it was "inevitable" that the Taliban would take control of Afghanistan, citing the 20 years and billions of dollars that the U.S. has spent training the Afghan security forces.
Promises made, promises kept pic.twitter.com/S38Bf8VvgX— Kyle Martinsen (@KyleMartinsen_) August 15, 2021
Top officials in the administration, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan, have appeared on television to defend the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.
Secy of State Blinken responds to this clip: pic.twitter.com/6OMCg2k0lq— Alex Salvi (@alexsalvinews) August 15, 2021
Anyone willing to offer Over/Under on how many times Biden says the word "Trump" or "inherited"...
President Trump offered some helpful advice for reporters to ask "what will Joe Biden surrender next?"
“First Joe Biden surrendered to COVID and it has come roaring back,” Trump said.
“Then he surrendered to the Taliban, who has quickly overtaken Afghanistan and destroyed confidence in American power and influence.”
“The outcome in Afghanistan, including the withdrawal, would have been totally different if the Trump Administration had been in charge. Who or what will Joe Biden surrender to next? Someone should ask him, if they can find him.”
Biden will speak at 3:45 p.m. ET from the East Room of the White House, where less than a week ago he said he did not regret his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from the country.
As an avalanche of awkward questions is expected, we note that The White House is requiring press to RSVP for Biden's Afghanistan remarks "due to spacing constraints and COVID-19 restrictions."
This means the majority of press who show up for the briefing each day in the much smaller briefing room will not be allowed in the larger East Room... conveniently.
On a side note, this could be one of President Biden's most-watched live-streams - buckle-up!