Federal Report Protects Biden Over Failed Afghanistan Withdrawal

Written by David Zimmermann

The story: The newly released After Action Review on Afghanistan details how the Biden administration did not adequately prepare for rapidly withdrawing the U.S. military from the war-torn nation two years ago—an action that led to the Taliban’s resurgence in 2021 after two decades of American occupation. It also lays out how the White House failed to prepare for the potential chaos that would ensue once the operation was carried out.

Context: The withdrawal, begun by the Trump administration, ended in disaster under President Joe Biden, leading to the loss of 13 American soldiers, the political collapse of Afghanistan, and $7 billion worth of American military equipment left in the hands of the Taliban. Shortly after the U.S. exit from the nation, the Taliban overthrew the Afghan government. Despite the failed withdrawal’s drastic consequences, Biden praised his administration’s efforts in the process.

The document: The 24-page review concluded that senior officials made the following mistakes during the evacuation operation: failing to consider “worst-case scenarios,” inaccurately predicting how long the Afghan government would last against the Taliban, lacking proper leadership, and ineffectively communicating. The report also blamed former President Donald Trump’s 2020 deal with the Taliban, saying the Taliban used it “as a way to simply run out the clock pending the departure of U.S. forces.”

Between the lines: Despite Biden’s disastrous withdrawal, the document avoids concretely blaming the president or calling out executive failures in the strategy. According to experts, and even The New York Times, the timing of the release—the Friday before Independence Day—and the tone of the document signifies an effort to sweep this blunder of Biden’s presidency under the rug. Still, Biden called the operation an “extraordinary success” and continues bragging about it every now and then.