Joe Biden’s botched withdrawal from Afghanistan ended two weeks ago, with an unknown number of Americans still stranded there, but the Biden administration is already trying to rewrite history about what happened.
In prepared testimony before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that no one had predicted Afghanistan would fall so quickly.
“Even the most pessimistic assessments did not predict that government forces in Kabul would collapse while U.S. forces remained,” Secretary of State Blinken said. “As General Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said ‘nothing I or anyone else saw indicated a collapse of this army and this government in 11 days.’”
But this is patently false. The New York Times reported on August 17, 2021, that our intelligence agencies warned of Afghanistan’s likely collapse earlier in the summer. “Classified assessments by American spy agencies over the summer painted an increasingly grim picture of the prospect of a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and warned of the rapid collapse of the Afghan military, even as President Biden and his advisers said publicly that was unlikely to happen as quickly, according to current and former American government officials,” the report read.
“By July, many intelligence reports grew more pessimistic, questioning whether any Afghan security forces would muster serious resistance and whether the government could hold on in Kabul, the capital,” the report continued. “President Biden said on July 8 that the Afghan government was unlikely to fall and that there would be no chaotic evacuations of Americans similar to the end of the Vietnam War.”
One report in July — as dozens of Afghan districts were falling and Taliban fighters were laying siege to several major cities — laid out the growing risks to Kabul, noting that the Afghan government was unprepared for a Taliban assault, according to a person familiar with the intelligence.
Intelligence agencies predicted that should the Taliban seize cities, a cascading collapse could happen rapidly and the Afghan security forces were at high risk of falling apart.
One official claimed that “intelligence agencies never offered a clear prediction of an imminent Taliban takeover,” but a report from NBC News said that the Central Intelligence Agency had specifically warned of a rapid collapse of the Afghan government. “As the Taliban began seizing provinces across Afghanistan in recent weeks, the CIA’s intelligence assessments began to warn in increasingly stark terms about the potential for a rapid, total collapse of the Afghan military and government, current and former U.S.,” the report read. “In the end, the CIA’s description of what a worst-case scenario could look like ‘was pretty close to what happened,’ one former official briefed on the matter said.” [Emphasis added]
Biden and other officials in his administration have claimed they had planned for all contingencies.
A senior official conceded to NBC News that the Afghan government “unraveled even more quickly than we anticipated,” but added that they “consistently identified the risk of a rapid collapse of the Afghan government,” and that they “also grew more pessimistic about the government’s survival as the fighting season progressed.”
Biden himself was directly warned by Afghan President Ashraf Ghani that the Taliban takeover was inevitable on July 23, during the infamous call where Biden asked him to lie about the situation on the ground.
“I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban,” Biden reportedly told Ghani. “And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture.”
“Mr. President, we are facing a full-scale invasion, composed of Taliban, full Pakistani planning and logistical support, and at least 10-15,000 international terrorists, predominantly Pakistanis, thrown into this, so that dimension needs to be taken account of,” Ghani allegedly told Biden. The White House has never denied the accuracy of the transcript of the call.
Biden was told that Afghan Security Forces could not maintain control without close air support from the U.S.—Biden promised to provide it only if Ghani publicly projected a more stable situation in the country.
The fact is Biden cared so much about withdrawing, so he could get his photo op, that the situation on the ground was ignored. Biden even ignored the advice of his military advisors. The problem wasn’t that no one foresaw the rapid collapse of the Afghan government, the problem was that the commander in chief didn’t care. To him, it was all about getting out, regardless of the consequences.