Joe Biden spoke from the White House yesterday to give an update on the evacuation from Afghanistan of US citizens and Afghans who helped the US, emphasizing that in recent days the evacuation flights have picked up considerably from last week's pace. Biden said the evacuation is on pace to be completed by the original planned deadline of August 31, but added that he'd instructed the Pentagon and State Department to develop contingency plans in case more time is needed.

Since Biden left open the option that the US might need to keep troops at the airport in Kabul beyond next Tuesday, we are now being treated to great journalism like this garbage from the Washington Post, claiming that having a plan but being ready to change it if needed has

stoked a new round of outrage and confusion about the United States' exit from a two-decade war.

The result was looming uncertainty over whether the United States would finalize its exit within a week, as Biden wants, as well as intensifying anger from would-be Afghan refugees, U.S. allies worried about getting their own personnel out of the country, and veterans concerned about the fate of those who helped the war effort.

The beauty here is that if Biden had set August 31 as a hard deadline, he could be condemned for blindly insisting on an unrealistic goal that failed to plan for unforeseen developments on the ground, and if he'd said the US would definitely stay a few days into September to make sure there was enough time to get everyone out, he'd clearly be an a indecisive squish whose commitments to meet a deadline can't be trusted.

Isn't geopolitical analysis fun?

Here's the video of Biden being resolute and sowing unspeakable confusion:



Biden actually started off with a few words about the House's passage of the outline for the great big Build Back Better reconciliation bill, thanking Nancy Pelosi for her "masterful" leadership and badassery. He also called on the Senate to follow up on the House's quick passage yesterday of the John Lewis Voting Rights Act, which is only going to happen if the filibuster is reformed, and that's a whole different story.

On the Afghanistan withdrawal, Biden said he'd spoken with G7 leaders in a virtual meeting yesterday to update them on the progress of the evacuation, which he said is going well:

As of this afternoon, we've helped evacuate 70,700 people, just since August the 14th; 75,900 people since the end of July.

Just in the past 12 hours, another 19 US military flights, 18 C-17s, and one C-130 carrying approximately 6,400 evacuees and 31 coalition flights carrying 5,600 people have left Kabul — just in the last 12 hours.

A total of 50 more flights, 12,000 more people since we updated you this morning.

Biden said he and the allied leaders agreed on several points concerning Afghanistan going forward, starting with international cooperation to keep the evacuation flights going smoothly, and noting that at the current pace, finishing by August 31 should be doable. "The sooner we can finish, the better. Each day of operations brings added risk to our troops.."

But meeting that deadline, he warned, would also depend in part on the Taliban not disrupting operations, and on their allowing people to get to Kabul's airport in the first place.

He also said that there are concerns that the airport might be attacked by ISIS-K, which is the Afghanistan branch of ISIS and hates both the US and the Taliban. What that country really needed is one more bunch of heavily armed religious fanatics. Biden said that risk is one more reason the evacuation needs to be completed quickly: "Every day we're on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both US and Allied forces and innocent civilians."

We'll readily admit we'd never heard of ISIS-K; we fully expect rightwing media to start freaking out that it's secretly imposing mask mandates in US public schools.

Beyond the evacuation, Biden said the US and allies are committed to a unified approach to the Taliban, and that any future diplomatic recognition of a Taliban government in Afghanistan would depend on the group's keeping its commitment to not allow the country to harbor terrorist groups like al Qaeda. He said the international community would commit to helping Afghan refugees find homes in the US and the EU.

For domestic consumption, Biden reiterated that all refugees who come to the US face comprehensive health and security screenings, as if that will calm down any of the fearmongers pretending that refugees are bringing COVID and terrorism to our pristine land of out-of-control Delta variant outbreaks. And he vowed that even after the US is no longer in Afghanistan, the country remains committed to stopping terrorism, only without quite so much invadey stuff as during the GW Bush administration.

Man, that sure sounds divisive and confusing, doesn't it?

[White House / Washington Post]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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