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Thursday, September 23, 2021

How Western media covered US pull-out in Afghanistan

US newspapers called it the President’s “cold-eyed view of the debacle”, while publishing images he “would want to avoid”.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: August 17, 2021 4:44:16 pm
Hundreds of people gather near a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane at a perimeter at the international airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16, 2021. (AP)

US President Joe Biden stood by his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan after 20 years of occupation, where chaos reigned as Taliban overtook provincial capitals within a matter of days.

“I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces,” he said. “Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation-building,” he said, vowing that despite the departure of US troops anti-terrorism operations would continue.

The western media, however, is not looking at Biden’s move kindly. US newspapers called it the President’s “cold-eyed view of the debacle”(Washington Post) while publishing images he “would want to avoid” (New York Times).

Highlighting the chaos that has engulfed the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, The Wall Street Journal front page mentioned Biden calling the exit the “right decision”.

In the UK, The Daily Telegraph’s front page read “Biden defends America’s flight”, while The Sun showed the US President sitting in a room and holding virtual meetings. The headline read “Joke Biden” alongside a subhead saying “Prez ‘surprised’ by rout”.

Spain’s El Mundo chose a line from Biden’s address on Monday to state “Biden: ‘Afghans don’t want to fight’”.

Miranda Devine’s column in the New York Post read, “Joe Biden’s defeat in Afghanistan will echo for eternity”, while George Packer’s analysis in The Atlantic says, “Biden’s Betrayal of Afghans Will Live in Infamy.”

A piece in Axios stated, “Rarely has an American president’s predictions been so wrong, so fast, so convincingly as Biden on Afghanistan.”

Some hundreds of people run alongside a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane as it moves down a runway of the international airport, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 16. 2021. (Verified UGC via AP)

CNN, however, quoted Matthew Dowd, a former strategist for President George W Bush, as saying that the American public is “exhausted” after 20 years of war in Afghanistan. He said that though the chilling visuals from the country may open Biden up to scrutiny and criticism, but will likely not be an issue in “a potential reelection or even midterms”.

Meanwhile, the plight of Afghans was also highlighted in the news coverage by international media outlets. Evocative visuals of citizens, desperate to flee the conflict-stricken country, were printed on the front pages of publications like Daily Mirror, The Guardian, New York Times and The Daily Mail.

The Daily Mirror front page carried the headline “Desperate” and an image of hundreds of citizens crammed into an air force plane, waiting to be evacuated.

Meanwhile, The Guardian showed hordes of people at the Kabul airport in a stampede-like situation, running along planes and trying to climb the wings. Videos that emerged later showed some people dropping off the aircraft after they took off.

Using the same image as The Guardian’s, The Times daily in London carried the headline “Race to escape Kabul carnage”, even as President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, leaving the people to fend for themselves.

France’s Liberation newspaper also used a similar headline “Run for your life”, along with an image of people trying to breach the Kabul airport’s wall to reach an aircraft.

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