Joe Biden’s betrayal: Allies can never trust this president again
Pointless G7 meeting framed one of America’s most embarrassing retreats as a great success
By Nick Allen, US EDITOR, WASHINGTON
25 August 2021 •
Joe Biden gave a speech on Tuesday night that was an affront to his allies, to desperate Afghans, and to the American public.
After 20 years of the United States’ longest war its Commander-in-Chief spoke for less than 13 minutes – and he spent the first five of those minutes talking about his domestic economic agenda.
“Now to Afghanistan…” Mr Biden said eventually, as many wondered if he had forgotten there was an international crisis going on.
The eagerly awaited address in the White House’s Roosevelt Room – which was billed as the president’s response to the Afghanistan crisis – had TV networks waiting with bated breath. It was then inexplicably delayed several times, ultimately for five hours.
What was Mr Biden agonising over all afternoon? Perhaps it was whether or not to tell the truth about his hasty and disastrous withdrawal.
In the end, he tried to hoodwink viewers in the US instead.
According to Mr Biden there was “strong agreement” between leaders he had spoken to earlier in a virtual G7 meeting. There wasn’t. The UK, France and Germany all wanted to extend the August 31 withdrawal deadline. The US president didn’t.
Mr Biden then reeled off figures about how many planes had taken off from Kabul airport, framing this most embarrassing of retreats as a great success.
The deadline could not be pushed back, he added, because the US military was at risk of terrorist attack. But surely that’s why they were in Afghanistan in the first place, to take out terrorists.
As for the G7 meeting, it was no consultation with allies as Mr Biden suggested.
The president had already made his decision beforehand not to extend the evacuation deadline.
He told Boris Johnson that in no uncertain terms on the phone the previous evening.
So, what was the point of having a meeting at all?
It was Mr Biden, as he is wont to do, paying lip service to US allies.
Minutes after the meeting was over the White House released a pre-prepared statement confirming he would not be taking a blind bit of notice of them.
According to one White House insider who previously worked with Mr Biden and the two chief architects of his Afghanistan policy – national security adviser Jake Sullivan and secretary of state Tony Blinken – they have never really meant what they said about the importance of alliances. It is just “slogans”.
“Having worked with a lot of these guys, they believe their own rhetoric and don’t feel that compels them to actually take firm steps,” the source said.
“A lot of them were convinced by simply showing up in Cornwall [for the G7] and saying the right things to leaders in the UK that would be sufficient – that they [the British] would think at least he [Mr Biden] isn’t throwing tweets at us.
“There’s a disconnect between what he [Mr Biden] is telling leaders, and the public, and what’s happening.”
As to Mr Biden’s speech, it was sold as an update on efforts to rescue Americans and vulnerable Afghans from the nightmare of Taliban rule.
But with an audience of millions tuning in Mr Biden instead used it to score political points, promoting his infrastructure bill. It was shameful.