In August 2021, as US troops withdrew from Afghanistan and the Taliban swiftly regained control of Kabul, the world was taken aback, and top US officials, including President Joe Biden, were caught off guard. President Biden, who was on vacation when news broke that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had fled the country, had an explosive reaction, as revealed in journalist Franklin Foer’s upcoming book, “The Last Politician,” which delves into the inner workings at the White House during the tumultuous Afghan withdrawal.
1. Swift Taliban Takeover
The Taliban’s rapid recapture of Kabul in August 2021 surprised not only the international community but also key figures within the US administration. President Joe Biden was on vacation when the news broke of President Ghani’s escape, and this caught him by surprise.
2. President Biden’s Reaction
Upon hearing that Ghani had fled Kabul, President Biden reacted with frustration and exclaimed, “Give me a break!” This emotional response is detailed in Foer’s book, shedding light on the president’s state of mind during the crisis.
3. Biden’s Vacation Timing
According to the book, President Biden had departed from Washington, D.C., for Camp David on August 12, 2021, just three days before the Taliban’s entry into Kabul.
4. Unexpected Taliban Advances
The Biden administration had anticipated a gradual transfer of responsibility to the Afghan government until August 31, 2021, when the Taliban was expected to assume a more active governing role. However, the Taliban’s swift advances and territorial gains took everyone by surprise, including the US administration.
5. Officials on Vacation
During the onset of the Taliban’s takeover, several high-ranking White House officials were also on vacation. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was in the Hamptons, and then-White House press secretary Jen Psaki had taken her family to the beach.
6. Return Amid Chaos
As the situation in Afghanistan deteriorated, shocking images emerged of people clinging to aircraft as they attempted to escape the country. Upon witnessing these distressing scenes, Psaki immediately cut short her vacation and returned to Washington.
7. Psaki’s Communication with White House Chief of Staff
Jen Psaki communicated her intentions to return to White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain, who responded by suggesting that she should indeed come back.
“President Biden’s Vacation During Taliban’s Kabul Takeover: Insights from New Book”
8. Evacuation Efforts
Despite the chaotic nature of the withdrawal, the Biden administration managed to evacuate over 120,000 individuals from Afghanistan as the country fell under Taliban control. However, the logistical challenges and the perception of a slow response continued to be a concern.
The insights from Foer’s book offer a glimpse into the events surrounding President Biden’s vacation during a critical moment in the Afghanistan withdrawal, shedding light on the challenges faced by the administration during this period.