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President Joe Biden gestures as he speaks about Hurricane Henri and the evacuation of Afghanistan in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, August 22, 2021. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

President Nixon warned against the United States acting like “a pitiful, helpless giant,” but he wouldn’t have been able to fathom events in Kabul.

The Taliban have said that they’re going to hold President Biden to his deadline to withdraw all U.S. troops by August 31, and, after intensive deliberations that delayed his public statement on Tuesday by hours, Biden said he has every intention to leave by the date the Taliban are insisting upon, even though members of Congress and foreign allies are urging him to push past it.

Biden noted that he’s asked the military to come up with contingency plans to stay beyond August 31, but this may only be a fig leaf.

The administration hopes to — and says it can — evacuate all Americans from the country by next Tuesday. There is serious doubt about this, though. Even with the pace of evacuations picking up impressively in recent days (19,000 people flown out over the last 24 hours, with another 10,000 now waiting at the airport), it’s not clear that it’s fast enough to get all Americans out. The White House estimated last week there were 11,000 Americans in Afghanistan and now says 4,400 have been evacuated.

The situation with our Afghan allies appears even worse. Reports suggest that translators and the like have had the most trouble getting through to the airport, and we have not been getting out the Afghans to whom we should be most committed.

There is no doubt that Biden’s ill-conceived and poorly executed withdrawal gave the Taliban the whip hand — literally and figuratively — in Kabul.

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