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Biden Stands His Ground on Ending the Afghan War

Aug. 20 , 2021 (EIRNS)—President Joe Biden defended his decision to end the insane Afghanistan war in an interview Aug. 18 with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos. Despite the normal stammering and occasional confusion, Biden made several cogent and truthful statements, in sharp contrast to the hysterical coverage by all U.S. media, from Fox to CNN to PBS, which are lying about the actual situation on the ground and denouncing Biden’s handling of the pullout. Unfortunately there was no discussion of reconstruction.

Some useful quotes:

Biden: I had a simple choice. If I had said, “We’re going to stay,” then we’d better prepare to put a whole hell of a lot more troops in —

Stephanopoulos: But your top military advisors warned against withdrawing on this timeline. They wanted you to keep about 2,500 troops.

Biden: No, they didn’t. It was split. Tha— that wasn’t true. That wasn’t true....

The reason why it’s been stable for a year is because the last President said, “We’re leaving. And here’s the deal I wanna make with you, Taliban. We’re agreeing to leave if you agree not to attack us between now and the time we leave on May the 1st.”.... There is no good time to leave Afghanistan. Fifteen years ago would’ve been a problem, 15 years from now. The basic choice is am I going to send your sons and your daughters to war in Afghanistan in perpetuity?... We spent over $1 trillion, George, 20 years. There was no good time to leave....

Stephanopoulos: They thought the Taliban would take over, but not this quickly?

Biden: But not this quickly. Not even close.... What we did was took precautions. That’s why I authorized that there be 6,000 American troops to flow in to accommodate this exit, number one. And number two, provided all that aircraft in the Gulf to get people out. We prepositioned all that, anticipated that. Now, granted, it took two days to take control of the airport. We have control of the airport now.

Stephanopoulos: Still a lotta pandemonium outside the airport.

Biden: Oh, there is. But no one’s being killed right now, God forgive me if I’m wrong about that, but no one’s being killed right now.... One of the things we didn’t know is what the Taliban would do in terms of trying to keep people from getting out, what they would do. What are they doing now? They’re cooperating, letting American citizens get out, American personnel get out, embassies get out, etc.

Stephanopoulos: You talked about our adversaries, China and Russia. You already see China telling Taiwan, “See? You can’t count on the Americans.” (laughter)

Biden: Why wouldn’t China say that? There’s a fundamental difference between Taiwan [and] South Korea, NATO.... We made a sacred commitment to Article Five, that if in fact anyone were to invade or take action against our NATO allies, we would respond. Same with Japan, same with South Korea, same with—[but] Taiwan, it’s not even comparable to talk about that.

Stephanopoulos: Yeah, but those—

Biden: It’s not comparable to t—

[Note: some press misinterpreted this to claim Biden was including Taiwan under an Article Five-type agreement, to assure defense if invaded. He was saying the opposite—that Taiwan was “not comparable.”]

We’re going to be putting together a group of the G7, the folks that we work with the most. I was on the phone with Angela Merkel today. I was on the phone with the British prime minister. I’m going to be talking to Macron in France to make sure we have a coherent view of how we’re going to deal from this point on.

Stephanopoulos: What happens now in Afghanistan? Do you believe the Taliban have changed?

Biden: I think they’re going through sort of an existential crisis about, do they want to be recognized by the international community as being a legitimate government? I’m not sure they do. But look, they have—

Stephanopoulos: They care about their beliefs more?

Biden: Well, they do. But they also care about whether they have food to eat, whether they have an income that they can provide for their families, that they can make any money and run an economy. They care about whether or not they can hold together the society that they in fact say they care so much about....

Stephanopoulos: Beyond Americans, what do we owe the Afghans who are left behind, particularly Afghan women who are facing the prospect of subjugation again?

Biden: ...The idea that we’re able to deal with the rights of women around the world by military force is not rational. Not rational.... The way to deal with that is not with a military invasion. The way to deal with that is putting economic, diplomatic, and national, international pressure on them to change their behavior....

Stephanopoulos: How about the threat to the United States? Most intelligence analysis has predicted that al-Qaeda would come back 18 to 24 months after a withdrawal of American troops. Is that analysis now being revised? Could it be sooner?...

Biden: There’s significantly greater threat to other places in the world than it is from the mountains of Afghanistan. And we have maintained the ability to have an over-the-horizon capability to take them out.... The deal is, the threat from al-Qaeda and their associate organizations is greater in other parts of the world to the United States than it is from Afghanistan....

Stephanopoulos: Final question on this. You know, in a couple weeks, we’re all going to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11. The Taliban are going to be ruling Afghanistan, just like they were when our country was attacked. How do you explain that to the American people?

Biden: Not true. It’s not true. They’re not going to look just like they were when we were attacked. There was a guy named Osama bin Laden that was still alive and well. They were organized in a big way, that they had significant help from other parts of the world. We went there for two reasons, George. Two reasons. One, to get bin Laden, and two, to wipe out as best we could, and we did, the al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. We did it. Then what happened? Began to morph into the notion that, instead of having a counterterrorism capability to have small forces there or in the region to be able to take on al-Qaeda if it tried to reconstitute, we decided to engage in nation building. In nation building. That never made any sense to me.

Stephanopoulos: It sounds like you think we should have gotten out a long time ago—

Biden: We should’ve.... I ask you, you want us to stay and send your kids back to Afghanistan? How about it? If you had a son or daughter, would you send them to Afghanistan now? Or later?

Stephanopoulos: How will history judge the United States’ experience in Afghanistan?

Biden: One that we overextended what we needed to do to deal with our national interest.

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