President Joe Biden’s State Department, which previously hesitated to criticize the White House’s Afghanistan withdrawal, released a damning report on Friday afternoon detailing the Democrat’s failure to properly terminate decades of U.S. presence in the Middle Eastern country.
For two years now, Biden repeatedly tried to dodge responsibility for the hasty and harrowing troop removal that led to the deaths of 13 U.S. service members and stranded thousands of Americans, U.S. allies, and their families.
The State Department’s unclassified review, which is less than two dozen pages long due to redactions, sheepishly confirms that President Joe Biden’s ultimate execution of the withdrawal “posed significant challenges for the Department.” The confession, publicly released more than a year after completion, comes mere hours before the July 4 holiday weekend begins.
Among those obstacles were ongoing stringent Covid policies, which “meant that some new embassy employees had not met others in their offices until the embassy evacuated to the Kabul airport,” a “Lack of Senate-Confirmed Officials in the Department and Embassies,” and ill-timed diplomatic turnover.
To put it simply, Biden’s rushing “compounded the difficulties the Department faced in mitigating the loss of the military’s key enablers,” and his lack of planning “had serious consequences for the viability of the Afghan government and its security.”
A majority of Americans disapproved of how the Biden administration handled the crisis, but an assessment of the White House’s actions released by the National Security Council earlier this year shifted most of the blame onto former President Donald Trump.
The recent evaluation also attempts to pin some of the disaster on Biden’s predecessor. The former president, however, was not the one who pledged a “safe and orderly” departure, left thousands of Americans behind as the Taliban took over, and abandoned billions of dollars in military equipment for U.S. enemies to use.
It was Biden who did all those things and more, including welcoming hundreds of Afghans on the Pentagon’s watchlist into the U.S. without vetting while his own constituents awaited rescue.
When the crisis came to a head in 2021, the Biden administration did not accept responsibility for the rapid ruination of Afghanistan. The State Department, specifically, repeatedly claimed that “we inherited a deadline” but “did not inherit a plan.”
“More could and should have been done,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken eventually admitted in April.
The review ends with a paragraph of praise by the State Department for the State Department’s handling of a crisis that many Americans say tainted their view of Biden during his first year in office.
“We end this After Action Review where we began, with praise and admiration for our colleagues throughout the Department. We have made a series of recommendations for ways in which we think the Department could better prepare for future complex crises, but in the final analysis, there is no substitute for the smart, hard-working, dedicated professionals that the Department could count upon in this crisis,” the report states. “We should be proud of what they and their partners in uniform accomplished during this evacuation and what they continue to do to help U.S. citizens and at-risk Afghans in the aftermath of the Taliban takeover.”