Seung Min Kim, one of the leading Middle East correspondents at the Associated Press (AP), called out President Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal during a live panel discussion at the 2023 Texas Tribune Festival.
The U.S. troop withdrawal process, which was completed in August 2021, initially shocked the world due to its distressing and chaotic nature. It ended with an emergency evacuation that cost the lives of 13 U.S. Servicemembers. According to Min Kim, the now legendary “dash to the runway” images may have damaged the U.S. reputation in the long term.
Who Is Seung Min Kim – And Why is He So Tough on Biden?
38-year-old Seung Min Kim is an Iowa native of Korean heritage. After a quick rise through a series of online portals, including Politico and the online version of The Washington Post, she quickly made a name for herself due to her political coverage. In 2022, she joined AP as a full-time correspondent.
Kim’s frank reporting has put her in the spotlight before, but it has taught her to be fearless. Her pieces on the Supreme Court nomination earned her vitriolic online attacks, and her detractors have not shied away from sexist or even racist abuse. However, her years as a “White House insider” have provided her with a rare level of insight into presidential policies.
When she sounds tough, she means it.
Why Biden Meant Well, but Did Wrong
According to Kim, the Afghanistan Withdrawal operation was one of the defining moments of the still-untested Biden administration.
In August 2021, the new government was still enjoying its honeymoon phase, and many sectors were still optimistic regarding Biden’s more conciliatory tactics. And while it’s true that most of the withdrawal operation was both planned and ongoing when he took office, he was also the accountable face for it. Here, his idealism may have cost him – and, by extension, the country – dearly:
“He was determined to end America’s longest war. But one of the biggest problems beyond just the tragic loss of lives and the chaoticness of the withdrawal is that it really punctured the appearance of Biden and his administration as one of competence.”
For many American citizens, the hasty and deadly evacuation from Kabul’s airport burnt the image of Candidate Biden, who had run on the idea of “restoring normalcy, institutions and competence in government.” Candidate Biden was immediately replaced by President Biden, responsible for chaos and death.
The final nail in the coffin of his “image of competence” came in the following months. Two years after the main event, there still hasn’t been a complete reckoning from the Biden Administration. A recent State Department Report presented an accurate mea culpa for the events – but the White House’s own report still places the blame on the previous president.
“But even to this year […] it has been a really big black mark for the administration in so many ways.”
Could Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal Harm the U.S. Long-Term?
In short, yes – especially in light of the new military threats that have risen since.
In the same panel, New York Times Correspondent Zolan Kanno-Youngs described the Afghanistan withdrawal as “one of the darkest periods for the president and the administration.” This was not the Army’s usual performance, but its memory still looms in the world’s memory.
An Army that needs to flee an airport, abandoning allied civilians, is not the fearsome behemoth meant to keep the world in check. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the last two years have seen foreign powers behaving with increased aggression. The most notable case is the Russian invasion of Ukraine. If we do not clean our Armed Forces’ image, it may become just the first of many.
Image Source: Canva