Instead, President Joe Biden traveled to Milwaukee to deliver remarks on climate and his economic agenda. The failure to recognize what some consider the end of America's longest war ran in stark contrast to many of Biden's Republican opponents.
"Thirteen American service members were killed, China grew increasingly aggressive toward Taiwan, Russia invaded Ukraine, and terrorists took over Afghanistan with the help of American equipment and supplies," former U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley, a contender in the 2024 Republican presidential primary, said in a statement. "To date, no one has taken responsibility for the botched withdrawal. No one has been fired, and no one replaced. The families of the 13 murdered service members can’t even get basic answers about what happened. In a Haley administration, there will be no mistaking where we stand. Our allies will know we have their backs, and our enemies will fear American strength.”
"Biden was wrong about his Afghanistan withdrawal, and 13 U.S. servicemembers died as a result. To insist he 'was right,' while praising the Taliban’s 'help,' is an insult to the families of the 13 American heroes, the veterans who served in Afghanistan, and the American people," Republican National Committee spokesman Tommy Pigott added.
White House officials demurred Wednesday when asked for a reason as to why the president did not put out an Afghanistan-focused statement on Tuesday, telling the Washington Examiner that "the anniversary of the withdrawal being completed is the end of the month.
"President Biden has spoken on many occasions — and given several public addresses from the White House — about how ending our longest war after 20 years was the right thing to do," a senior White House official said in a statement. "Our nation is stronger today as a result and bringing U.S. troops home improved our national security by better positioning us to redirect our energy and resources to confront the challenges of the future."
White House officials, however, did not answer when asked about any plans to commemorate the two-year anniversary of the completion of the U.S. withdrawal at the end of August.
Biden put out a statement on Aug. 26, 2022, honoring the 13 U.S. service members killed in the terror attack at the Kabul airport one year prior.
"Today, I am praying for the families of those 13 fallen warriors, who lost a piece of their soul one year ago. Our nation can never repay such incredible sacrifice — but we will never fail to honor our sacred obligation to the families and survivors they left behind," the president wrote. "I am grateful to all the members of our Armed Forces, veterans, and their families, as well as the diplomats, intelligence professionals, counterterrorism experts, and development specialists who served in Afghanistan and who sacrificed so much to make our nation stronger and safer."
An after-action report published this summer by the administration found that both the Biden and Trump administrations exhibited "insufficient senior-level consideration of worst-case scenarios and how quickly those might follow" in pushing to meet the deadline for withdrawal.
The report also found that the United States overestimated the capabilities of the now-defunct democratically elected Afghan government to survive Taliban offenses and that a clear lack of communication between the Pentagon and State Department, and even among leaders within those separate bodies, further exacerbated the situation.
"I said we'd get help from the Taliban," Biden told reporters in late June when asked about the report. "I was right."
Secretary of State Antony Blinken was the sole Biden administration official to discuss the Afghan withdrawal in any public capacity on Tuesday.
"The decision to withdraw from Afghanistan was an incredibly difficult one, but also the right one. We ended America’s longest war. For the first time in 20 years, we don’t have another generation of young Americans going to fight and die in Afghanistan," he told reporters at a Tuesday press conference when asked if "the U.S. has done [right] by the Afghan people and the Afghan partners who remain stranded there."
"In turn, that has enabled us to even more effectively meet the many challenges of our time, from great power competition to the many transnational issues that we’re dealing with that are affecting the lives of our people and people around the world," he continued. "We continue to work to hold the Taliban accountable for the many commitments that it’s made and not fulfilled, particularly when it comes to the rights of women and girls. We’ve been very clear with the Taliban, and dozens of countries around the world have been very clear, that the path to any more normal relationship between the Taliban and other countries will be blocked unless and until the rights of women and girls, among other things, are actually supported."
Though Biden has maintained that ending the war in Afghanistan was the "right" decision, politically, his silence on the issue Tuesday should not come as a surprise given the nosedive his polling took during the Afghan withdrawal.
Meanwhile, the president is ramping up his reelection effort, and Biden campaign officials previously told the Washington Examiner that Biden wanted to focus on economic "issues," especially ahead of Wednesday's milestone, the one-year anniversary of the Inflation Reduction Act.