What about Biden’s ‘extraordinary success’ in Afghanistan, Jen? Psaki circles back 48 hours later on question about the president’s foreign policy successes and names ‘leadership, European alliances and AUKUS’ – but doesn’t mention Kabul
- Psaki took 48hr to answer a question about Biden’s biggest foreign policy win
- On Thursday, she listed three accomplishment from his first year in office
- Restoring U.S. leadership, repairing alliances and moves in the Indo-Pacific
- But she did not mention the decision to end America’s longest war
- Biden himself described the exit from Afghanistan as an ‘extraordinary success’
- Psaki took heat on Tuesday for saying she needed more time to answer
Almost 48 hours after being asked to name President Biden’s biggest foreign policy wins, Press Secretary Jen Psaki came up with an answer on Thursday: restoring American leadership, rebuilding alliances and taking action in the Indo-Pacific.
But the president’s most consequential decision – ending the U.S. war in Afghanistan – merits no mention, even though Biden himself described the resulting evacuation of Kabul as an ‘extraordinary success.’
Her response quickly renewed criticism of an administration that has trumpeted its foreign policy expertise.
‘Thanks to Patsy Widukaswara for a thoughtful question about our single biggest foreign policy success this year,’ tweeted Psaki, referring to the the softball query she was asked on Tuesday.
‘Thoughtful questions deserve thoughtful answers so here are 3 of the accomplishments [the president] and our team are proud of this year. More to come.
She listed the Biden administration’s role in international institutions and convening world leaders to make progress on the pandemic, climate change and economic recovery; restoring our alliances, including with Europe, and ending some significant trade disputes; and in the Indo-Pacific, developing new platforms such as the A.U.K.U.S. deal with Australia and the United Kingdom.
Jen Psaki struggled to find an answer on Tuesday when asked for President Biden’s biggest foreign policy achievement, but listed three when she tweeted her answer two days later
Psaki used a Twitter thread to trumpet restoring U.S. leadership to the world, rebuilding alliances and making progress in the Indo-Pacific region as successes
Too little, too late, according to Brett Bruen, director of global engagement in the Obama White House.
He said not only was the delay a ‘missed opportunity’ but it exposed a lack of confidence in the administration’s achievements.
‘And if, for instance, we are to believe that the withdrawal from Afghanistan went as successfully as they led us to believe and was as historically important as they argued,’ he continued, ‘why not hold that up as an important accomplishment for the administration?
The hurried withdrawal of U.S. troops continues to cast a shadow over the administration.
Some 13 service personnel died in the final days of the evacuation when an ISIS suicide bomber detonated explosives at Kabul airport, and chaotic scenes of refugees falling from departing planes provided the defining image of the departure.
Yet Biden cast the exit, as the Taliban seized the capital and control of the country 20 years after the U.S. invaded, as a triumph.
‘The extraordinary success of this mission was due to the incredible skill, bravery, and selfless courage of the United States military and our diplomats and intelligence professionals,’ he said as he announced the end of America’s 20-year war in the country.
But allies such as the U.K. have said they felt blindsided by the hasty exit and fear rivals such as Russia and China may sense weakness in Washington.
Missing from Psaki’s answer was any mention of the Afghanistan exit, which will be remembered for the desperate scramble of Afghans to find safety on departing planes
Biden said the evacuation was an ‘extraordinary success’ despite images of chaos
Psaki was asked about what lessons had been learned in Afghanistan by Widukaswara, a reporter with Voice of America, along with a gentle softball on Tuesday.
‘What does the administration consider your biggest achievement in foreign policy in this first year? And also what lessons have you learned from what is arguably the biggest failure which is Afghanistan,’ she asked.
Psaki responded: ‘You know, this is a great question.
‘I want to be thoughtful about it. I want to talk to the president about it.
‘And I’m happy to do that.’
The result was surprise among some foreign policy experts, and open ridicule by Biden’s opponents that she was apparently unable to list his successes.
Sean Spicer, who served in the same role as Psaki under President Trump, tweeted: ‘If you can’t name one you have a PROBLEM.’