President Joe Biden in June told allies in the Group of Seven that the U.S. would ensure Kabul’s stability after withdrawing troops from Afghanistan so they could maintain embassy operations in the capital, a promise that didn’t pan out as Taliban forces took over the country in less than a week, according to a memo obtained by Bloomberg News.
The British Embassy has since been evacuated, and the U.S. Embassy is also shuttered. The chaotic exit has left allies frustrated and puzzled.
”I think that what has happened shows that Europe needs to develop this famous ‘strategic autonomy’ in order to be ready to face challenges that affect us eventually,” European Union High Rep. Josep Borrell, a Spanish politician who now leads the bloc’s diplomatic corps, told reporters Tuesday.
German politician Armin Laschet, the heir apparent to outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel, described the situation as the ”greatest debacle that NATO has seen since its foundation, and it is an epochal change that we are facing.”
On Friday, however, Biden said he had seen ”no question of credibility from our allies.”
”As a matter of fact, the exact opposite I’ve got … we’re acting with dispatch, we’re acting, committing to what we said we would do,” he said in a speech from the White House.
About 18,000 people have been flown out of Afghanistan since July, and Biden said every American who wanted to be evacuated would be. The U.S. was also still looking for other countries willing to accept people fleeing the country.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg described the situation outside Kabul airport as “very dire and difficult” as several member countries pressed for evacuations to continue beyond Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline.
Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, on Tuesday slammed the ”flawed plan.”
”I am disappointed that the Biden administration clearly did not accurately assess the implications of a rapid U.S. withdrawal,” he said. ”The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will continue fulfilling its oversight role with a hearing on U.S. policy towards Afghanistan, including the Trump administration’s flawed negotiations with [the] Taliban, and the Biden administration’s flawed execution of the U.S. withdrawal.”
Former British national security adviser Peter Ricketts told the Financial Times that NATO has ”been completely overtaken by American unilateral decisions.”
He cited former President Donald Trump’s ”decision to start talking to the Taliban about leaving and then the Biden decision to set a timetable.”
Ricketts continued: ”The Afghanistan operation was always going to end sometime. It was never going to go on forever. But the manner in which it’s been done has been humiliating and damaging to NATO.”