President Joe Biden will address the nation on Monday about the U.S. evacuation from Afghanistan, after the planned withdrawal of American forces turned deadly at Kabul’s airport as thousands tried to flee the country after the Taliban’s stunning takeover.
Biden returned to the White House Monday afternoon from the Camp David presidential retreat ahead of his planned speech at 3:45 p.m. from the East Room. It will be his first public remarks on the Afghanistan collapse in nearly a week. Biden and administration officials had been stunned by the pace of the Taliban’s swift routing of the Afghan military.
Sponsored: Do this IMMEDIATELY To Help Lose Weight
Senior U.S. military officials say the chaos at the airport left seven people dead Monday, including some who fell from a departing American military transport jet.
Afghans rushed onto the tarmac of the capital’s airport as thousands tried to escape after the Taliban seized power. Some clung to the side of a U.S. military plane before takeoff, in a widely shared video that captured the desperation as America’s 20-year war comes to a chaotic end.
Another video showed the Afghans falling as the plane gained altitude over Kabul. U.S. troops resorted to firing warning shots and using helicopters to clear a path for transport aircraft.
The Pentagon confirmed Monday that U.S. forces shot and killed two individuals it said were armed, as Biden ordered another battalion of troops — about 1,000 troops — to secure the airfield, which was closed to arrivals and departures for hours Monday because of civilians on the runway.
The speed of the Afghan government’s collapse and the ensuing chaos posed the most serious test of Biden as commander in chief, and he came under withering criticism from Republicans who said that he had failed.
Biden campaigned as a seasoned expert in international relations and has spent months downplaying the prospect of an ascendant Taliban while arguing that Americans of all political persuasions have tired of a 20-year war, a conflict that demonstrated the limits of money and military strength to force a Western-style democracy on a society not ready or willing to embrace it.
Surprise! Eggs do this to senior brains [sponsored]
National security adviser Jake Sullivan said Monday that the “speed with which cities fell was much greater than anyone anticipated.” He blamed the government’s fall on the Afghans themselves, telling NBC’s “Today” show that the U.S. ultimately could not give Afghan security forces the “will” to fight to defend their fledgling democracy.
“Despite the fact that we spent 20 years and tens of billions of dollars to give the best equipment, the best training, and the best capacity to the Afghan security forces, we could not give them the will and they ultimately decided that they would not fight for Kabul and they would not fight for the country,” Sullivan said.
The turmoil in Afghanistan resets the focus in an unwelcome way for a president who has largely avoided criticism from the mainstream media.
Despite the collapse and chaos, Biden remained at Camp David over the weekend. His administration released a single photo of the president on Sunday alone in a conference room meeting virtually with military, diplomatic, and intelligence experts.
He was briefed again by his national security team on Monday before returning to Washington.
You can see the video of his remarks below, scheduled to begin around 3:45 pm Eastern —
“The jury is still out, but the likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely,” Biden said on July 8.
Just last week, though, administration officials warned privately that the military was crumbling, prompting Biden on Thursday to order thousands of American troops into the region to speed up evacuation plans.
Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump also yearned to leave Afghanistan, but ultimately stood down in the face of resistance from military leaders and other political concerns. Biden, on the other hand, has refused to change the Aug. 31 deadline, in part because of his belief that the American public is on his side.
Sponsored: What Calcium Does To Your Heart
Public opinion has rapidly turned against the Biden administration after the collapse.
The GOP stepped up their critique of Biden’s withdrawal strategy and said images from Sunday of American helicopters circling the U.S. Embassy in Kabul evoked the humiliating departure of U.S. personnel from Vietnam.
Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell deemed the scenes of withdrawal as “the embarrassment of a superpower laid low.”
The Associated Press contributed to this article