Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has admitted that the United States has no ability to help American citizens stranded in Afghanistan. The Defense Secretary has joined other administration officials in acknowledging that the United States no longer has any ability to control anything which takes place in Afghanistan outside of Hamid Karzai International Airport, which is still being operated by NATO troops who are working to evacuate thousands of people in the coming days.
Citizens are on their own
The Biden Administration seemingly did very little to prepare for the evacuation of the thousands of American citizens still in Afghanistan when the Taliban launched their lightning offensive.
Americans and Afghans who are eligible for evacuation have reportedly received little, if any, guidance or support from U.S. officials in their efforts to get out of the country.
An earlier message sent to Americans in Afghanistan by the State Department effectively told stranded Americans that they were on their own unless they could manage to get to the airport.
Defense Secretary Austin has now confirmed that the United States does not “have the capability to go out and collect large numbers of people.”
Americans who can make it through to the airport are likely to be quickly evacuated. Getting to that airport requires a hazardous trip through Taliban ruled Kabul for most; Americans not already in the capital have little chance of escaping unless they can get there quickly.
Those who get through the streets of Kabul must face a massive crush of desperate people trying to gain access to the airport. The prospective evacuee is then forced to go through both Taliban and NATO checkpoints before they are allowed in.
REPORTER: "Do you have the capability to go out and collect Americans?"
DEFENSE SECRETARY AUSTIN: "We don't have the capability to go out and collect large numbers of people." pic.twitter.com/Mk60TX8iQo
— Townhall.com (@townhallcom) August 18, 2021
Defense Secretary admits the U.S. is helpless
While politicians in both parties have expressed dismay at the fact that the United States is negotiating with Taliban leaders to ensure the safety of Americans moving to the airport, there is practically no alternative for the Biden Administration now.
Failure to arrange for these evacuations before the collapse of the Afghan government has left thousands of American citizens completely at the mercy of the new Taliban regime.
As the Defense Secretary confessed, there is no realistic option for the United States which does not involve the cooperation of the Taliban; any unilateral move has the potential to result in thousands of deaths and prevent any more Americans from escaping.
NATO troops are surrounded by large numbers of well armed Taliban fighters at the airport and a rescue mission beyond the relative safety of the airport would be practically impossible.
American air power is effectively useless in the densely populated streets of Kabul and there could be little support for troops on the ground if there was a battle with the Taliban now.
Defense Secretary Austin and the Biden Administration have allowed themselves to be placed in a position in which the U.S. government is completely dependent on the mercy of the Taliban to ensure a safe evacuation for thousands of U.S. citizens. For the Taliban that humiliation is a victory in itself.