White House Chief of staff Ron Klain continues to insist they had no idea the Taliban would take over Afghanistan so quickly and blames Trump for strengthening the Taliban
- Ron Klain defended the administration’s handling of the withdrawal on Tuesday
- He said no one predicted Kabul would fall to the Taliban so rapidly
- They went from holding no provincial capitals ‘to marching into Kabul in 11 days,’ he said
- He also said he didn’t know if the U.S. would ever recognize a Taliban government
President Biden’s most senior aide insisted again that the White House had no clue the Taliban could take over Afghanistan so quickly and defended the administration’s handling of a chaotic, hurried withdrawal.
White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain spoke soon after Biden on Tuesday declared the U.S. war in Afghanistan to be over and insisted had been prepared for every eventuality.
Yet only a month earlier, Biden said no one would need to be rescued by helicopter from the U.S. embassy – which is exactly how the American withdrawal played out as officials appeared wrongfooted by the pace of the Taliban advance.
Klain defended the president.
‘In July, the Taliban had not yet conquered a single provincial capital in the country…’ he said.
‘I don’t think there was anyone who thought they would go from having taken no provincial capitals to marching into Kabul in 11 days in August.
‘We certainly knew there were threats and dangers of the Taliban on the march and even when Joe Biden, I became president the Taliban had taken or was contesting 50% of the countryside.
Me: “Will the U.S. be recognizing the Taliban as the government of Afghanistan any time soon?”
White House chief of staff Ron Klain: “I don¿t think anytime soon, I don¿t know if we will ever recognize their government.”
Some breaking news tonight…pic.twitter.com/KBFCT5Maod
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) September 1, 2021
Ron Klain, White House chief of staff, defended the administration’s handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan and said no one predicted the rapid fall of Kabul to the Taliban
President Biden declared America’s 20-year war in Afghanistan over during an address to the nation on Tuesday
‘President Trump left us with the Taliban in its strongest military position it ever was … But since 2001.’
Again he blamed the collapse of the Afghan armed forces and the flight of President Ashraf Ghani for the fall of Kabul.
However, a number of intelligence figures have pushed back on the idea that the administration had not been warned.
Douglas London, the CIA’s former counter-terrorism chief for south and south-west Asia, recently said the rapid advance of the Taliban was one of a range of scenarios briefed to officials in both the Trump and Biden administrations.
In an essay for Just Security, he said it was ‘misleading at best’ to suggest otherwise.
Klain also said he was unsure whether the administration would ever recognize a Taliban government.
Taliban fighters paraded their weaponry through Kandahar on September 1 as they celebrating victory over the U.S. after 20 years of war
A helicopter displaying a Taliban flag fly above of supporters gathered to celebrate the US withdrawal of all its troops out of Afghanistan, in Kandahar on September 1
‘I don’t think anytime soon. I don’t know if we will ever recognize their government,’ Klain said.
‘What we know is that the Taliban says they’re going to form a government, we’ll see what that looks like, we’ll see what kind of credentials they present.’
‘More importantly, we’ll see what their conduct is. Do they honor their commitments, to allow freedom of travel? Do they respect human rights?’
‘I think the question of recognizing a new government of Afghanistan is down the road here.’
For now, the U.S. embassy to Kabul has relocated to the Qatar capital Doha.
Other White House officials have got themselves tangled as they tried to describe the U.S. attitude to Afghanistan’s new rulers.
MSNBC host Nicolle Wallace asked Biden’s National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan to clarify: ‘What is the Taliban? Are they now our frenemy, are they our adversary, are they our enemy? Are they our – what are they?’
‘Well, it’s hard to put a label on it,’ he replied.
He added: ‘In part because we have yet to see what they are going to be now that they’re in control – physical control of Afghanistan.’