For many Americans, shock was the predominant emotion as we watched Afghanistan fall swiftly to the Taliban over the course of the last several days.
How was it that the United States could spend twenty years and untold amounts of taxpayer money on a war in a still-developing country and still leave it to the terrorists that they were here to contain? And how could it only take eleven days to undo all of this work?
This was truly a confusing and frightening moment for Americans, but those on the ground could see it coming all along, and they even warned President Joe Biden about it.
A leaked transcript and audio recording of a call between President Joe Biden and then-Afghan President Ashraf Ghani about three weeks before Kabul fell showed that as the Afghan president warned of a Taliban “invasion,” Biden pressed him to change the “perception.”
According to a report by Reuters, in a 14 minute call between Biden and Ghani on July 23, the Afghan president told Biden, “We are facing a full-scale invasion, composed of Taliban, full Pakistani planning and logistical support, and at least 10-15,000 international terrorists.”
Biden’s concerns were on the optics of the situation, however.
In the call, Biden offered aid if Ghani could publicly project he had a plan to control the spiraling situation in Afghanistan. “We will continue to provide close air support, if we know what the plan is,” Biden said.Advertisement - story continues below
Biden also told Ghani, “I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban.”
“And there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture,” he told Ghani, and urged him tot give a press conference with Afghanistan’s prominent political figures backing a new military strategy.
Then, as if to cement his obliviousness, Biden then praised the Afghan military’s abilities and prowess, unable to predict that the entire fighting force would simply melt away in less than two weeks of pressure from the Taliban.