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'Tone Deaf, Incomplete': Senators, Journos, Others on Biden's Afghanistan Speech

President Biden on Monday said that he "squarely stood by his decision" of withdrawing troops from Afghanistan.

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4 min read
<div class="paragraphs"><p>US President Joe Biden</p></div>
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Breaking his silence for the first time since the Taliban took over Afghanistan, United States (US) President Joe Biden on Monday, 16 August, said that he "squarely stood by his decision" of withdrawing troops from the country that has now found itself in the midst of a humanitarian crisis.

But even as Biden, in his televised speech on Monday night, attempted to brush off criticism coming from all quarters since the US exit, US Republican senators placed the blame squarely on the president.

Meanwhile, journalists, writers and activists from the United States censured the Biden administration for catapulting a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan and failing to acknowledge it.

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HOW DID US SENATORS REACT TO HIS SPEECH?

Senator Mitt Romney took to Twitter to issue a statement shortly after Biden's speech, writing, "Contrary to his claims, our choice was not between a hasty and ill-prepared retreat or staying forever."

"The president's failure to acknowledge his disastrous withdrawal provides no comfort to Americans or our Afghan partners whose lives hang in the balance," Romney added.

Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky called it a “monumental collapse," reported The New York Times.

Republican Senator Ben Sasse, meanwhile, slammed Biden and called the evacuation a show of "weakness and betrayal."

“Our troops promised them that the US would never turn tail and have another cowardly moment like what happened in Saigon. This is worse than what happened in Saigon. What happened at the airport today is a more shameful moment than what happened in Saigon. And Biden comes out of his bunker trying to do a campaign photo-op speech where he attacks the Afghan people for coming to that airport,” he said on CNN.

“They fought with us, and we said they would be secure, and his administration undermined the confidence of those people fighting. We bizarrely, in one of the great blunders in military history, evacuated Bagram air force base in the middle of the night. Why? Why would we have evacuated Bagram air force base? The Biden administration undermined the confidence of the fighters in Afghanistan,” Sasse further said.

Tom Cotton, another Republican senator, joined the ranks of Biden's critics, saying that the president was “dangerously disconnected from reality.”

“The president seemed totally oblivious to the conditions on the ground,” Cotton said, in an interview with Fox News.

“He acted as if this withdraw is going in an orderly fashion, when in fact we have hundreds – if not thousands – of Americans stuck behind Taliban lines who have no clear instructions on how to get to the airport and get out of the country.”
Tom Cotton

Republican Senator Pat Toomey, meanwhile, said, "President Biden is failing in this moment. I pray that he finds the courage to change direction at the soonest possible moment."

In a series of tweets after Biden's speech, he said that the president cannot "double down on this catastrophe of an exit."

Meanwhile, Senator Marsha Blackburn from Tennessee wrote, "Joe Biden is placing the blame for Afghanistan’s collapse on everyone but himself. How is this competent leadership?"

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JOURNALISTS, ACTIVISTS, OTHERS REACT

Journalist Mina-Al Oraibi wrote in a succinct tweet, "Biden’s speech was targeted to a domestic audience - but the world heard his message loud and clear: The US cannot be relied on."

Columnist Wajahat Ali iterated:

Editor of Open Canada debunked Biden's claims of Afghans' unwillingness to fight, saying that "nearly 70,000 Afghan security forces have died fighting the Taliban since 2001. Joe Biden's assertion that Afghans aren't willing to fight and die for their country is slanderous."

Sebastian Gorka called Biden's decision to retreat the "greatest foreign policy disaster since the Fall of Saigon."

Meanwhile, American author Terry Glavin wrote, "Sorry, Americans, but that speech today amply proves that the difference between the fathead Trump and your new president is that Joe Biden is a more accomplished liar."

Michael Kugelman called Biden's speech "tone deaf and incomplete" saying that Biden's speech failed to acknowledge the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Afghanistan as the US looks to withdraw its troops after 20 years of war.

The Editor-in-Chief of The Dispatch summarised the speech and wrote:

United Nations Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights Karima Bennoune wrote that Biden's speech was "heartbreaking and wrong."

'Strong, True': Some Express Support

However, even as gut-wrenching scenes emerge from the war-torn Afghanistan, some supported Biden's decision.

"We have been waiting 20 years for someone to say 'enough'," tweeted Saagar Enjeti.

A columnist from the Washington Post noted that Biden's 'strong' speech expressed the sentiment of the majority of Americans.

Journalist Teddy Locsin said that Biden's speech was "brilliant because it was true."

WHAT DID BIDEN SAY?

"I am the President of the United States of America and the buck stops with me," he said, pointing out that he is the fourth President of the United States since 2001 when the American troops were first deployed in Afghanistan.

Describing the visuals of the status of Afghanistan as "gut wrenching," Biden said that he is “deeply saddened by the facts we now face" but added that he did not regret his decision.

"I stand squarely by my decision," Biden said, adding that he will not "repeat mistakes made in the past."

Biden said that the events of Taliban taking over unfolded more quickly than his office anticipated because Afghan leaders "gave up and fled the country."

(With inputs from The New York Times, CNN & Fox News)

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