In an interview with George Stephanopoulos on August 19, Joe Biden said the U.S. would stay in Afghanistan until every American who wants to get out is out. As of now, the U.S. is out of Afghanistan, but our government concedes that some Americans are still trapped in that chaotic Taliban-ruled country. Moreover, our government does not intend to use the military to get these Americans out.
Let’s break this down. General McKenzie, Commander of CENTCOM, said today:
I’m here to announce the completion of our withdrawal from Afghanistan and the end of the military mission to evacuate American citizens, third country nationals, and vulnerable Afghans. The last C-17 lifted off from [Kabul Airport] this afternoon at 3:29 East Coast Time.
On the question of evacuating all Americans who want out, McKenzie said “we were not able to bring any Americans out” on the last jets to leave Afghanistan because “none of them made it to the airport.” (Emphasis added) I think even Jen Psaki would agree that those who didn’t make it to the airport are “stranded.”
How many are stranded? I doubt that we know. However, McKenzie said he thinks the number of Americans still trapped in Afghanistan is in the “low hundreds.”
What are we going to do to get these people out? We’re not planning to use the military. John Kirby, the State Department spokesman, said the administration does “not anticipate a military role” in the effort to get additional U.S. citizens out of Afghanistan.
So I guess we’re going to rely on the Taliban to get our people out. Maybe we’ll bribe them.
Perhaps this approach will work, at least for most of those who are stranded. Let’s hope so.
But it’s not what Biden promised in the Stephanopoulos interview. And it’s not the way a serious, self-respecting country with a decent regard for its citizens behaves.