On Monday afternoon, President Joe Biden delivered an address to the country, and to the world, about the recent developments in Afghanistan involving the Taliban’s takeover.
“Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to be nation-building,” said President Biden. “The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated, it is wrong to order American troops to step up, when Afghan troops would not”.
The speech largely shifted blame from the U.S.’s sloppy withdrawal and onto the Afghan people themselves.
“I would rather take all the criticism of my decision than pass the responsibility on to a fifth president,” President Biden added as he closed his address.
Over the weekend the US began evacuating Americans, Afghans, and others seeking to flee the Taliban rule that has quickly swept Afghanistan.
President Biden’s address today marks a stark contrast to what he said back on July 8. He assured American’s that “the jury is still out, but the likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely”.
U.S. veterans criticize how withdrawal is being conducted
Many US veterans are expressing their frustration and disappointment with how quickly the Taliban has seemingly undone the work of the last 20 years.
“I’m now sitting here 20 years removed almost from the very event that propelled me into the military, which was the attacks of September 11,” said Matt Zeller, an Afghanistan veteran and the advisory board chair of the Association of Wartime Allies.
“And now I’m wondering if the last 20 years were completely pointless and in vain,” he told CNN. “All the friends I lost in Afghanistan — what were their deaths for? What was their sacrifice for if this was the end state?”
“I don’t think I did anything worthwhile at this point,” he said.
US Army veteran Kristen Rouse, who spent a combined 31 months in Afghanistan, received a message from her Afghan interpreter whom she worked with while deployed that said “your government is killing us”.
“Dear sweet sister, the Taliban are in my village. I am about to die. I know who you are, you are for us, but your government is killing us,” Vet. Rouse recalled the message.
“Veterans are seeing this and struggling, and wanting to know what they can do. There’s so few, so limited options right now to be able to help anybody,” Vet. Rouse said.
Afghans who worked with U.S. seek emergency visas
Many across the country are calling for the US to approve emergency visas for Afghans who have helped our military during the war. The US State Department said as many as 20,000 Afghans have applied for a Special Immigrant Visas (SIV) to be able to come to the United States. There are still tens of thousands of Afghans who worked with the US military that are stuck in the pipeline or do not qualify for the SIV program.
“It is gut-wrenching, these are people we relied on, that we promised that we wouldn’t leave them behind. And we’ve abandoned them through bureaucracy and through failing to have a plan to get them out. And they’re being hunted. They’re being hunted and murdered,” said Vet. Rouse.
The US State Department said that as of Friday about 1,200 Afghan interpreters and their families have received visas and been rescued.