‘I think history is going to record this was the logical, rational, and right decision to make’
President Joe Biden on Sunday claimed not to have seen a poll about his falling popularity and public disapproval over the handling of the Afghanistan crisis.
The question was raised in a Sunday presser by Ed O’Keefe from CBS News, the network that carried out the poll last week which showed that majority of Americans disapproved of the way Mr Biden handled the Afghanistan humanitarian crisis and troop pullout.
The result said while 63 per cent of respondents supported troops withdrawing from Afghanistan, 53 per cent disapproved of the president’s handling of it. Similarly, an NBC News poll also found Biden’s approval rating to be 49 per cent, compared to 48 per cent disapproval.
At the presser, Mr O’Keefe asked the president about the Taliban regime and added: “The poll also found that based in part on what’s transpired in the past week, a majority of Americans — forgive me, I’m just the messenger — no longer consider you to be competent, focused, or effective at the job.”
Mr Biden’s response was a grinning smile as he said, “I haven’t seen that poll.”
When Mr O’Keefe went on to inform him it was a CBS poll and asked what he would say to those Americans who no longer believe in his competency.
“Look, I had a basic decision to make,” the president replied, before reciting stats on the number of Americans killed and wounded in Afghanistan before the withdrawal, and the money and resources spent there.
“And I decided to end the war,” he said.
“At the end of the day, if we didn’t leave Afghanistan now, when do we leave? Another ten years? Another five years? Another year?” the president said. “I’m not about to send your son or your daughter to fight in Afghanistan. I don’t see where that is in our overwhelming interest.”
“And the talk about how our interests are going to be impacted — let me tell you. You’re sitting in Beijing or you’re sitting in Moscow. Are you happy we left? They’d love nothing better for us to continue to be bogged down there, totally occupied with what’s going on,” he added.
“My job is to make judgments no one else can, or will, make,” Biden said on Sunday. “I made them. I’m convinced I’m absolutely correct in not deciding to send more young women and men to war—for a war that in fact is no longer warranted.”
“I think history is going to record,” Mr Biden concluded, “this was the logical, rational, and right decision to make.”
Afghanistan can be looked at as the first real test of Mr Biden as the honeymoon period of his presidency comes to an end. Despite the repeated defence of his moves, the return of the Taliban to power after the end of a 20-year-long war is inviting questions on what the US managed to achieve in two decades.
Mr Biden’s judgement of leaving Afghanistan isn’t only just criticised because it ended up with the Taliban being in power again, but also the enormous humanitarian crisis it triggered, as thousands of Afghans who helped the US and US-backed Ashraf Ghani government are left in the lurch.
Distressing scenes from Kabul airport of desperate Afghans trying to leave as countries evacuate their citizens first continued to surface even after a week. Rights activists have pointed that the US hasn’t done enough to evacuate those Afghans who worked with the US and continue to remain under threat in Taliban rule ahead of time, leaving them in the last moment crisis like this.
The footage of evacuation from Kabul has also brought comparisons with Saigon in 1975 and Mr Biden’s statements a few days ago seem like he didn’t expect the situation to go become like this himself.