Taliban forces successfully surrounded the Afghan capital; Kabul on Sunday (15/8/2021) as the United States (US) was evacuating diplomats from its embassy by helicopter. Taliban Successfully Enter Afghanistan’s Capital
Two photographs of President Joe Biden this week neatly illustrated the White House’s fight to contain the fallout of the biggest crisis of his presidency.
In the first; he sat alone at Camp David; staring upwards at a bank of video monitors surrounded by 18 empty leather chairs. Even some White House officials wondered whether the imagery; including him in a polo shirt; was helpful.
Three days later; when Biden was back at the White House; the picture was much different. He sat in suit and tie at the head of the Situation Room conference table; mask hanging off one ear as he scowled toward the assembled members of his national security team. The same team assembled a day later to “manage efforts in Afghanistan;” the White House said.
Biden has found himself caught this week in some of the most dire days of his seven-month-old presidency; accused of badly botching the end of America’s longest war even by some of his most reliable allies at home and abroad.
The White House has scrambled to explain the chaos in Afghanistan through briefings; speeches and interviews — even as Biden himself remains defiant in his decision and insists the American people are behind him.
So far; the President’s reflexive response to the crisis to deflect blame and reject criticism has done little to quiet the questions swirling about whether he properly prepared for the Taliban’s takeover. It has tarnished what had been a carefully-honed image of competence; and Biden’s own explanations for what happened — that the chaos was inevitable and the Afghan army was to blame — belie the empathy that is his chief political characteristic.