August 17

By Domenico Montanaro

If there’s one thing an American president doesn’t want to see, it’s the kind of pictures that have played out on cable news of the chaos in Kabul — crowded runways of people desperate to get out, with some hanging from the outsides of U.S. cargo planes and, for those lucky enough to get in, crammed on the floor.

There are humanitarian concerns facing the Afghan people. But the disorganization and confusion of President Biden’s full U.S. military withdrawal of Afghanistan have also put him in a political hole. After doing what three presidents before him didn’t — or wouldn’t — do even if they advocated for it, Biden is facing a bipartisan backlash.

On Monday, he took a degree of responsibility, saying the buck stops with him, but he mostly blamed Afghan leaders and forces and defended the larger policy direction.

“American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” Biden said in remarks, noting the $1 trillion and nearly 20 years the U.S. has spent there since the 9/11 attacks.