OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Joe Biden is finally answering questions from the media about his debacle in Afghanistan, albeit in a carefully prepared for sit down with just one reporter.
Biden spoke to ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos in an interview that aired on Thursday and his answers were rather interesting.
“Back in July, you said a Taliban takeover was highly unlikely. Was the intelligence wrong, or did you downplay it?” Stephanopoulos said to begin the interview.
“I think — there was no consensus. If you go back and look at the intelligence reports, they said that it’s more likely to be sometime by the end of the year. The idea that the tal — and then it goes further on, even as late as August. I think you’re gonna see — the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and others speaking about this later today,” he said.
Asked if he thought there was an intelligence failure he went back to blaming Donald Trump for making a deal.
“I hear people say, ‘Well, you had 2,500 folks in there and nothin’ was happening. You know, there wasn’t any war,’” he said.
“But guess what? The fact was that the reason it wasn’t happening is the last president negotiated a year earlier that he’d be out by May 1st and that– in return, there’d be no attack on American forces. That’s what was done. That’s why nothing was happening. But the idea if I had said — I had a simple choice. If I had said, ‘We’re gonna stay,’ then we’d better prepare to put a whole hell of a lot more troops in,” he said.
But the biggest revelation from the interview was when he told Stephanopoulos that he could not recall military leaders telling him that he should keep a small force in Afghanistan, which the media reported.
“So no one told — your military advisors did not tell you, ‘No, we should just keep 2,500 troops. It’s been a stable situation for the last several years. We can do that. We can continue to do that’?” the host said.
EXCLUSIVE: Asked about July comment that a Taliban takeover was “highly unlikely,” Pres. @JoeBiden tells @GStephanopoulos, “there was no consensus” in the intelligence. “They said it was more likely to be by the end of the year.” https://t.co/NmBEmVRw8M pic.twitter.com/LSXSC51ox8
— Good Morning America (@GMA) August 19, 2021
“No. No one said that to me that I can recall. Look, George, the reason why it’s been stable for a year is because the last president said, ‘We’re leaving. And here’s the deal I wanna make with you, Taliban. We’re agreeing to leave if you agree not to attack us between now and the time we leave on May the 1st,’” he said.
“I got into office, George. Less than two months after I elected to office, I was sworn in, all of a sudden, I have a May 1 deadline. I have a May 1 deadline. I got one of two choices. Do I say we’re staying? And do you think we would not have to put a hell of a lot more troops? B– you know, we had hundreds– we had tens of thousands of troops there before. Tens of thousands,” Biden said.
“Do you think we woulda — that we would’ve just said, ‘No problem. Don’t worry about it, we’re not gonna attack anybody. We’re okay’? In the meantime, the Taliban was takin’ territory all throughout the country in the north and down in the south, in the Pasthtun area,” he said.
He also said that regardless of Trump’s deal he would have still removed troops from Afghanistan.
“I would’ve tried to figure out how to withdraw those troops, yes, because look, George. There is no good time to leave Afghanistan. Fifteen years ago would’ve been a problem, 15 years from now. The basic choice is am I gonna send your sons and your daughters to war in Afghanistan in perpetuity?” he said.
STEPHANOPOULOS: "Most intelligence analysis has predicted that Al-Qaeda would come back 18-24 months after a withdrawal of American troops… Could it be sooner?"
BIDEN: "It could be." pic.twitter.com/Ukc67AzUYC
— Benny (@bennyjohnson) August 19, 2021
Biden also said that the United States had no troops in Afghanistan which, as the RNC pointed out on Twitter, is inaccurate as there are around 900 US troops in Syria, as he said that Al Qaeda could make a comeback in Afghanistan.
Joe Biden: “We don’t have military in Syria." The U.S. has 900 troops. pic.twitter.com/zXywawGsD4
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) August 19, 2021
“Al Qaeda, ISIS, they metastasize. There’s a significantly greater threat to the United States from Syria. There’s a significantly greater threat from East Africa. There’s significant greater threat to other places in the world than it is from the mountains of Afghanistan. And we have maintained the ability to have an over-the-horizon capability to take them out. We’re– we don’t have military in Syria to make sure that we’re gonna be protected,” he said.