How do the Americans view the departure from Afghanistan?

‘It’s kind of a mess here. You can tell by the people giving a press conference today, like national security advisor Jake Sullivan. Those eyes are a little embarrassed. They are always asked: why is the evacuation not better arranged, why have you not at least told The Americans: things are going to get out of hand when we withdraw the troops. Why aren’t these people prepared?

‘Their answer is always: it wouldn’t have mattered, whether we had let it know sooner or not, this chaos is reality. They avoid the question and say, ” we can talk later about how we could have done better.” Since August 14th, 37 thousand people have been removed, they say. There are thousands more to get away. Exactly how much is unclear.

How does this sound to president Joe Biden?

How do the Americans view the departure from Afghanistan?

’25 percent of Americans think that the American departure from Afghanistan has been handled well. That’s really very little. The ghastly images, of the chaos at the airport and Afghan children being handed over to American soldiers, are breaking in. Especially since Biden is known as a respected foreign expert, and it now seems like decisions have been made that were not considered.

‘It is not the case that people are beginning to question the fact that the US is withdrawing its troops. The discontent focuses on the way it happens. People are not only wondering whether the evacuation could not have been better arranged, but also whether there really was no other possibility than for the Taliban to take over immediately. All those people who have been sent there, the Americans who have died, the money that has been put into it, in the eyes of some of the Americans, it seems to have been all for nothing.’

Are there big differences in the reaction between Democrats and Republicans?

‘It’s not very common in the US, but in this case both parties are dissatisfied with Biden. Although, of course, the Republicans are going in extra hard. If you turn on Fox News, they say: actually, the people who are still being held hostage by the Taliban, Biden has not been able to protect them. That’s how they keep the fire going.

‘At the same time, they are not only concerned with Afghanistan here. The number of coronavirus cases is increasing, hospitals are filling up, there are parts of the country where people don’t want to be vaccinated. How Biden deals with it will also affect his appreciation.’

The US has set a deadline of 31 August. Germany and the United Kingdom are asking them to stay longer on the eve of the G7 meeting on Tuesday. Is that an option?

‘On Sunday Biden said: Maybe we’ll stay longer. Today the government said again that they do not intend to. Boris Johnson and Angela Merkel are very concerned, it does not look like everyone was picked up on August 31st. Biden may then change his position when they speak at the G7 meeting, but that is difficult to predict.

‘The Taliban have already said: If you stay longer than August 31, we will respond. I do not think that the Americans are so shocked by this, but I can imagine that they fear for security in Kabul if they extend the deadline and that tensions in Kabul will increase even further. I don’t think fear of losing face is the problem. The government has already lost face, this could be added.’

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