Joe Biden certain to face criticism over US nationals ‘left behind’
The Pentagon has admitted that as many as 250 Americans who wanted to leave Kabul are stranded there, as the US flew its final evacuation from Afghanistan and ended a 20-year presence.
As a top US general – and pointedly not President Joe Biden – announced the final US evacuation flight had left the South Asian country, he also said that not every American who had expressed a wish to leave had made it out before the August 31 deadline.
“There’s a lot of heartbreak associated with this departure. We did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out,” said General Frank McKenzie, commander of the US Central Command.
“But I think if we stayed another 10 days we wouldn’t have gotten everybody out … and there still would’ve been people who would’ve been disappointed.”
He added: “No words from me could possibly capture the full measure of sacrifices and accomplishments of those who served.”
The admission that around 250 Americans who wanted to be on those final flights were not, will be leapt on by Republicans and other critics of Joe Biden, whose handling of the nation’s departure from Afghanistan has been widely condemned.
While US officials will point that 122,000 people have been airlifted out of Kabul since August 14, the day before the Taliban regained control of the country after two decades, it be matter less to the critics who said the US should have stayed until every American was safely accounted for.
While Donald Trump’s administration signed a deal with the Taliban in February 2020 to assure the final 2,400 US troops left Afghanistan, Republicans have been ruthless in their criticism of Mr Biden’s handling of the final days of the US presence.
While a majority of Americans agreed with both Mr Biden and Mr Trump that it was time to end to end America’s 20-year military presence in the country, a war that left countless thousands of Afghans dead, and around 5,000 US and UK troops, they have not been impressed by his handling of the exit.
A recent poll found an overwhelming majority of Americans support keeping US troops in Afghanistan until all those who aided the United States over the past two decades have been evacuated.
The poll, conducted by ABC/Ipsos suggested 71 per cent of Americans thought US troops should remain until all Afghan allies have been evacuated from Afghanistan. As many as 84 per cent believe they should stay until all Americans have been evacuated