President Joe Biden is brushing off criticism of his administration's chaotic Afghanistan withdrawal because he and his aides believe the political fallout at home will be limited, according to White House allies and administration officials, APA reports citing Reuters.
Biden and his top aides argue they are managing an evacuation mission as well as could be expected given the faster-than-anticipated takeover of the country by Taliban insurgents, and are seeking to draw attention back to the choice to get U.S. troops out of the country.
The strategy is based on internal and public polling that shows the Afghanistan withdrawal had been by far the most popular decision Biden has made, even though the issue was not central for most voters.
"The public opinion is pretty damn clear that Americans wanted out of the ongoing war and don't want to get back in. It's true today and it's going to be true in six months," said one Biden ally. "It isn't about not caring or being empathetic about what's going on over there, but worrying about what's happening in America."
Biden has faced criticism even from some fellow Democrats for his handling of the crisis.
But White House officials believe Americans' horror over graphic images of the chaos in Kabul and pleas from Afghans who fear they will be killed by the Taliban will morph into support for the president's decision to pull troops from the country by Aug. 31 after a 20-year war.
They expect the Afghanistan story to recede from the headlines, replaced by the resurgence in COVID-19 cases, the economic recovery and other issues, people familiar with the matter said.
A White House spokesperson declined to comment.
Biden is scheduled to deliver remarks on Afghanistan at the White House at 1 p.m. (1700 GMT).White House spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield, in an MSNBC interview on Friday, did not say whether the president would take questions from reporters.
Biden aides honed talking points weeks ago to be used even in the worst-case scenarios of a withdrawal, some of which have come to pass, including emphasizing that leaving Afghanistan was the right decision.
"The idea that somehow, there's a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don't know how that happens," Biden told ABC News on Wednesday. "There is no good time to leave Afghanistan. Fifteen years ago would've been a problem, 15 years from now. The basic choice is am I going to send your sons and your daughters to war in Afghanistan in perpetuity?"
In recent days, Biden has also assailed the Afghan military for failing to fight, denounced the now-ousted Afghan government and declared that he inherited a bad withdrawal agreement from his Republican predecessor, Donald Trump.
The strategy has obvious risks, political experts say.
"The concern is that it's going to undercut his credibility as commander in chief," said Jim Manley, once a top aide to former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. "If the Taliban revert to what they've done in the past, and I assume that's going to be the case, it's going to be a lot of bad images coming out of that country."