'Simple choice': Biden responds to criticism of intelligence failure in Afghanistan

Published on Aug 19, 2021 08:50 AM IST

Critics say that the US could have prevented the chaos in the country by handling the situation better or delaying the troop pullout.

An Afghan child sleeps on the cargo floor of a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, kept warm by the uniform of Airman First Class Nicolas Baron, C-17 loadmaster, during an evacuation flight from Kabul, Afghanistan, (Reuters)
An Afghan child sleeps on the cargo floor of a US Air Force C-17 Globemaster III, kept warm by the uniform of Airman First Class Nicolas Baron, C-17 loadmaster, during an evacuation flight from Kabul, Afghanistan, (Reuters)
By | Written by Shivani Kumar | Edited by Poulomi Ghosh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

United States President Joe Biden on Wednesday responded to the criticism that the hasty pullout of forces from Afghanistan was a glaring intelligence failure, saying it was "a simple choice". Biden also said that the fallout in Afghanistan following the pullout could not have been handled in a way without "chaos ensuing".

In an interview with an American television ABC, Biden was asked whether the situation over the past one week was a result of intelligence, planning, execution, or judgement failure. To this Biden responded by saying that he "doesn't think it was a failure" and it was a simple choice.

Biden also pinned the blame on the South Asian nation for the collapse of the Afghan government and meltdown of Afghan forces as he defended himself amid the backlash. "When you had the government of Afghanistan, the leader of that government getting in a plane and taking off and going to another country, when you saw the significant collapse of the Afghan troops we had trained, 300,000 of them, just leaving their equipment and taking off... that's what happened, that's simply what happened," he said during the interview.

"No, I don't think it could have been handled in a way that, we're going to go back in hindsight and look, but the idea that somehow, there's a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don't know how that happens," Biden also said.

Afghanistan fell into turmoil after the Taliban seized power in the country by capturing a city by city in just 10 days. Since the fall of Kabul over the weekend, scenes of chaos have unfolded as thousands tried to flee, fearing a return to the brutal regime of the Taliban that ended 20 years ago.

After the military takeover, the group has also seized huge amounts of weaponry, equipment and munitions from the Afghan armed forces, most of it supplied over the past two decades by the US.

Critics say that the US could have prevented the chaos in the country by handling the situation better or delaying the troop pullout. The Biden administration had long promised an "orderly drawdown" of America's longest war, with the president saying US forces no longer have any national interest in fighting in a protracted conflict.

Earlier Secretary of State Antony Blinken also said that their mission in Afghanistan has been completed. "We went to Afghanistan 20 years ago, with one mission in mind, and that was to deal with the people who attacked us on 9/11 and that mission has been successful," Blinken said.

The US entered Afghanistan in 2001 and ousted the Taliban who were ruling the country since 1996.

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