On July 8th of this year, Joe Biden said all of these things in front of the press:
Q Is a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan now inevitable?
THE PRESIDENT: No, it is not.
THE PRESIDENT: Because you — the Afghan troops have 300,000 well-equipped — as well-equipped as any army in the world — and an air force against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable.
Q Mr. President, some Vietnamese veterans see echoes of their experience in this withdrawal in Afghanistan. Do you see any parallels between this withdrawal and what happened in Vietnam, with some people feeling —
THE PRESIDENT: None whatsoever. Zero. What you had is — you had entire brigades breaking through the gates of our embassy — six, if I’m not mistaken.
The Taliban is not the south — the North Vietnamese army. They’re not — they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability. There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a embassy in the — of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.
THE PRESIDENT: The Afghan government and leadership has to come together. They clearly have the capacity to sustain the government in place. The question is: Will they generate the kind of cohesion to do it? It’s not a question of whether they have the capacity. They have the capacity. They have the forces. They have the equipment. The question is: Will they do it?
And I want to make clear what I made clear to Ghani: that we are not going just sus- — walk away and not sustain their ability to maintain that force. We are. We’re going to also work to make sure we help them in terms of everything from food necessities and other things in — in the region. But — but, there’s not a conclusion that, in fact, they cannot defeat the Taliban.
I believe the only way there’s going to be — this is now Joe Biden, not the intelligence community — the only way there’s ultimately going to be peace and security in Afghanistan is that they work out a modus vivendi with the Taliban and they make a judgment as to how they can make peace.
And the likelihood there’s going to be one unified government in Afghanistan controlling the whole country is highly unlikely.
Q Mr. — Mr. President, I — thank you. I wanted to ask: With the benefit of hindsight, you’ve spoken to the fact that the Taliban are sort of at their militarily strongest point that you’ve seen in 20 years. How do you feel personally about that, with the benefit of hindsight and all of the dollars and investments and American troops that were sent there?
THE PRESIDENT: Relative to the training and capacity of the ANSF and the training of the federal police, they’re not even close in terms of their capacity.
I was making the point — the point was that here we were; I was — the argument is, “Well, we could stay because no one was dying. No Americans are being shot. So why leave?” Once the agreement was made by the last administration that we were going to leave by May 1st, it was very clear that a Taliban that had always been a problem was even a more sophisticated problem than they were than before. Not more sophisticated than the ANSF, the government. More than they were.
If one wishes to, one can argue that this wasn’t Biden’s fault, or that he inherited a bad situation, or that it’s far more complicated than it looks. One can even argue that what’s happening doesn’t change the rationale for Biden’s decision. But, under no circumstances, can one argue that this is turning out how the president imagined it would.
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