Biden administration faces criticism over withdrawal in Afghanistan
Evacuating Americans remains the top priority in Afghanistan, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken told CBS News Sunday morning while criticism of the withdrawal grows.
A CBS News/YouGov poll shows 74% of surveyed Americans feel the withdrawal was handled badly or very badly. And 60% fear terrorism will now increase.
At the same time, 63% of those surveyed said they continue to support a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
U.S. generals, meanwhile, remain satisfied that the evacuations can be successful with the approximately 6,000 American troops now in Kabul, National Security Chief Jack Sullivan told NBC News Sunday.
He added that President Joe Biden continues to ask defense officials every day whether they need more troops or other resources.
The president has stressed his goal of evacuating all Americans who want to leave Afghanistan.
“There will be plenty of time to criticize and second guess when this operation is over,” President Biden said. “But now, I am focused on getting this job done.”
Mr. Blinken and Mr. Sullivan talked during interviews with correspondents Major Garrett and Chuck Todd on “Face the Nation” and “Meet the Press” respectively.
Mr. Blinken told Mr. Garrett Sunday morning that the U.S. had evacuated about 8,000 people in the previous 24 hours and a total of 30,000 since the effort started in July.
“But we’ve seen these wrenching scenes of people crowded at the gates, of people hurt, of people killed. It’s an incredibly volatile situation, and we’re very focused on that,” Mr. Blinken said.
He said the State Department remains in contact with U.S. citizens and others and is advising them on the safest way to get to Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.
In other developments Sunday, a NATO official confirmed that 20 people died near the airport during the chaotic exodus.
And Tobias Ellwood, the chair of the defense committee in the British House of Commons, complained that Britain wasn’t included in discussions about the U.S. evacuations.
There has been concern about delays in evacuations while a Qatar air base, where U.S. military planes fly to from Kabul, struggles with the high number of evacuees now there.
On “Face the Nation,” Secretary Blinken noted the U.S. has secured agreements with two dozen nations on four continents to serve as destinations for the flights, which he predicted would “alleviate some of the bottlenecks that we’ve seen in the system to enable this to flow even more quickly and more effectively.”
For the most part, critics of the withdrawal haven’t questioned the decision to pull U.S. troops out after 20 years.
But they are questioning how the withdrawal was carried out.
“This was a complete and total surrender and an embarrassing failure,” former U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley told Mr. Garrett on “Face the Nation.”
‘This is an unbelievable scenario where literally the Taliban has our Americans held hostage. It’s a scary time,” Ms. Haley said. “And we have to make sure that we are working with our allies who literally won’t trust us at this point and think we’ve lost our minds. We have to figure out a way to get our Americans out and to get our allies out. …
“There are times when you have to negotiate with the devil, but you have to negotiate from a point of strength,” she said. “You don’t do it from a point of weakness. We literally have no leverage right now with the Taliban.”
Ms. Haley called on the Biden administration to extend its Aug. 31 deadline for the evacuations “and make sure that the Taliban knows they’ve got to let people into the airport. We’ve got to get our Americans out.”
When asked if the Kabul airport would remain open under the supervision of the U.S. military after Aug. 31, Secretary Blinken said, “Our focus is making sure every single day we’re getting as many people out as we can, as fast as we can. That is our focus.”
Ms. Haley, meanwhile, warned about what women and girls would likely face under Taliban rule, including being forbidden to attend schools, being forced into child marriages and being forced to be sex slaves.
The information in this story is based on various national media reports, including a transcript of “Face the Nation.”email: email@example.com