A new book by liberal author Franklin Foer, who works for The Atlantic, revealed how President Joe Biden reacted when he learned that his administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan was in utter chaos, shocking the U.S. Intelligence community.
Foer says the sudden fall of Kabul and the flight of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani came as such a surprise that several members of the Biden administration were on vacation, including the president himself.
The author of the book, titled “The Last Politician: Inside Joe Biden’s White House and the Struggle for America’s Future,” relates that on Friday, August 12, 2021, Biden left Washington D.C. for a quick vacation in mid-August at Camp David.
Once there, he learned of Ghani’s departure from the country as the Taliban prepared to take the capital, Kabul. At that point, the book reads, “Biden exploded in frustration” and said, “Give me a break!”
In addition to Biden, other senior officials were on leave, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who was in the Hamptons, and then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki, who had gone to the beach with her family.
At that point, the withdrawal from Afghanistan already looked disastrous in the eyes of public opinion, and the Biden Administration officials themselves knew they had to get back to work immediately.
Foer writes that Psaki realized she had to abandon her vacation on August 16 after she saw images of people falling in despair from American military planes taking off from Kabul International Airport before the Taliban’s arrival.
According to Foer, Psaki wrote to then-White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, “I’m contemplating coming back,” and he replied, “I’m sorry. I think you need to.”
The president frustrated with the “friendly” press
According to “The Last Politician,” Biden was actively involved in the withdrawal from Afghanistan, giving directions and suggestions for the largest number of evacuations.
But the president’s efforts to give the impression that the situation was under control failed completely, explains Foer, who details that the president was incredibly frustrated because the criticism not only came from the most conservative media but also from “the columnists and venerable reporters that Biden’s inner circle respected and tended to heed.”
Even Foer wrote in the book that “[i]n the thick of the crisis, Biden didn’t have time to voraciously consume the news, but he was well aware of the tough coverage. ‘We’re getting killed,’ he would admit. It frustrated him to no end.”
But beyond the media coverage, criticism from political adversaries and even questioning from veterans, Foer says Biden maintained his position that withdrawing from Afghanistan, beyond disaster, was the right decision.
“In fact, everything he’d witnessed from his seat in the Situation Room confirmed his belief that exiting a war without hope was the best and only course,” Foer said.