“There’s a serious disconnect between the messaging from the Biden administration, which is essentially, ‘We’ve got this, we have a plan, we’re getting this under control. If you want to get out of Afghanistan, you can,'” The Associated Press’ Julie Pace said on Sunday’s “Inside Politics.” “And then what we’re seeing on the ground from really brave reporters who are there, from a lot of Afghan civilians who are sharing pictures of images of the scene outside the airport where, no, you cannot get out if you want to get out.”
Since the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, the Taliban have regained control of major parts of the country. Stunning images have captured Afghans desperately clinging to U.S. airplanes in attempts to flee the extremist group.
Pace rejected any suggestion from the White House the situation in Kabul is stable.
“It’s very difficult to get through,” she added. “We see again today that there is violence, chaos outside the gates of the airport. And so I think the onus is on the Biden administration to do two things: One, to actually get that situation under control and then two, to be upfront with the American people about what’s going on. They can see it with their own eyes at this point.”
CNN’s Chief National Affairs Correspondent Jeff Zeleny agreed the Biden White House’s messaging on the crisis was “bizarre,” taking particular issue with the president’s response to a question about whether allies around the world had lost confidence in the U.S. following Biden’s bungled response.
“I have seen no question of our credibility from our allies around the world,” Biden claimed on Friday.
But his answer came on the heels of German Chancellor Angela Merkel calling the rapid withdrawal an “absolutely bitter development,” and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitting it was “fair to say” the U.S. decision to withdraw troops “accelerated” the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan. Since Biden’s press conference, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair criticized the president for what he called an “abandonment” of Afghanistan.
“The world is now uncertain of where the West stands because it is so obvious that the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan in this way was driven not by grand strategy but by politics,” Blair wrote in an essay published on the website of the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change.
“You have to question, is the president insulated, isolated?” Zeleny asked on CNN. “On Friday it was almost bizarre. What he was saying did not match the reality of what some of his other advisers were saying.”
“I think this will be a very defining moment in the Biden presidency about what we learn of him as president, but it seems to me he’s a bit insulated or isolated inside the White House,” Zeleny continued.
The president, Zeleny said, may have “empathy” for the situation in Afghanistan, but has been unable to focus on the task at hand and has oftentimes been too defensive.
Biden has also appeared to mislead the American people on the presence of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, and whether Americans are having problems getting through Taliban checkpoints. CNN’s Brianna Keilar pressed National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on why Biden was “misleading with his words” on those two points. Sullivan said he “rejected” her characterization, insisting that U.S. intelligence has shown Al Qaeda in Afghanistan does not currently represent a threat to the United States homeland.
Military planes are still evacuating Afghans and American citizens from Kabul. Fox News foreign correspondent Trey Yingst reported live from the airport Sunday, noting that while the situation may not seem as chaotic as it was a few days ago, the calm is “simply temporary.”