September 18, 2021

Secretary of State Antony Blinken admits Afghanistan collapse happened ‘more quickly’ than expected

The staggering speed with which the Taliban has succeeded in overtaking Afghanistan has stunned the world, and amid what is amounting to a devastating humiliation for the United States on the global scene, some Biden administration insiders and allies – including Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a CNN interview – are acknowledging their tragic miscalculation.

It was not long ago that President Joe Biden declared his intention to complete a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan after twenty years of involvement as well as his confidence that if Kabul were to fall to the insurgent fighters, it would not be for another several months.

As the last several days have borne out, however, that prediction was extraordinarily inaccurate, and American efforts have now shifted to facilitating a frantic evacuation of diplomatic and other personnel from the capital city as the Taliban swept in to take control from the U.S.-backed Afghan government.

During a discussion with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday’s State of the Union program, Blinken stated, “The fact of the matter is we’ve seen that force has been unable to defend the country. And that has happened more quickly than we anticipated.”

While Blinken attempted to assert that “we’ve known all along, we’ve said all along including the president, that the Taliban was at its greatest position of strength at any time since 2001 when it was last in charge of the country. That is the Taliban we inherited. And so we saw they were very much capable of going on the offensive and beginning to take back the country.”

The rate at which it all unfolded, however, was something even Blinken had to admit took the administration by surprise, a situation which will undoubtedly be the subject of months, if not years, of analysis and, perhaps, official investigation.

The troubles for Biden in the wake of the collapse of Kabul stretched beyond his own Cabinet member’s acknowledgment of error, as a number of congressional Democrats joined the chorus of those outraged by the egregious mismanagement of the U.S. withdrawal.

Rep. Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX) declared on Sunday, “There’s no way to hide it. The situation in Afghanistan is another shame on this admin. Withdrawal was never going to be easy, but it didn’t need to come to this,” the Washington Examiner noted.

Massachusetts Democrat Rep. Seth Moulton echoed sentiments surely shared by of millions of Americans this weekend, lamenting, “To say that today is anything short of a disaster would be dishonest. Worse, it was avoidable,” the Examiner added.

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