National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan is admitting that Biden administration officials are surprised by how quickly the Taliban took over Afghanistan.
During an interview on NBC’s “Today,” co-host Savannah Guthrie played Sullivan clips of President Joe Biden predicting that it was “highly unlikely” that the Taliban would take over the country.
In July, the president declared, “There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof [an] embassy of the United States from Afghanistan.”
Guthrie said, “And yet that is precisely what we have seen over these last few days. How do you explain getting this so wrong?”
“Well first, Savannah, to be fair, the helicopter has been the mode of transport from our embassy to the airport for the last 20 years,” Sullivan began.
Guthrie retorted, “But you know the larger point, it’s not the helicopter. It’s not the mechanism. No, no, it’s the last-minute scramble, you know that, it’s the last-minute scramble when the assurances from the president himself were this was not what we were going to see.”
Sullivan noted that “the speed with which cities fell was much greater than anyone anticipated.”
“At the end of the day, despite the fact that we spent 20 years and tens of billions of dollars, to give the best equipment, the best training, and the best capacity to the Afghan national security forces, we could not give them the will. And they ultimately decided that they would not fight for Kabul and they would not fight for the country,” he added.
Watch the video below:
“It was not inevitable. There was the capacity to stand up and resist. They capacity didn’t happen.”
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) August 16, 2021
He went on to note that Biden “pre-positioned” U.S. troops in the region and authorized the deployment of roughly 6,000 troops to Afghanistan to help facilitate the evacuation of the U.S. embassy.
When asked if that represents a worst-case scenario, Sullivan said, “I think the worst-case scenario for the United States would be a circumstance in which we were adding back in thousands and thousands of troops to fight and die in a civil war in Afghanistan when the Afghan army wasn’t prepared to fight in it itself.”
Finally, Sullivan argued that there was no amount of time or money the U.S. could spend to prepare the Afghan security forces to fight for the country.
Sullivan’s comments come after the Taliban has taken control of Kabul, Afghanistan, the nation’s capital. Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country on Sunday.
The U.S. has been conducting a rushed evacuation of Americans and Afghan allies in the wake of the collapse of Afghanistan’s security forces and the fall of the control of the country to the Taliban.
In a statement over the weekend, Biden blamed former President Donald Trump for making an agreement to withdraw from Afghanistan. He said that deal forced him to choose to either “follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our Forces and our allies’ Forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict.”
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