- Biden cut off the press about Afghanistan after taking a few questions Friday.
- He said he wanted to talk about “happy things,” as US forces left the largest base in Afghanistan.
- The drawdown of US troops from Afghanistan, America’s longest war, should be complete by September.
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After answering a handful of questions on Afghanistan, President Joe Biden abruptly decided he was not going to answer any more on the subject during a press briefing Friday, saying there is a holiday coming up and he wanted to talk about “happy things.”
The US is in the process of pulling troops out of Afghanistan, where the US military has waged war for nearly two decades. Early Friday, news media reported the US military had left Bagram Air Base, which has been the largest US base in Afghanistan and an operations center in America’s longest war.
The withdrawal of US forces and the pending conclusion of a so-called “forever war” is a major endeavor, one which impacts not just the US but also its NATO allies and Afghan partners.
But during a discussion with the press Friday, the president appeared to grow frustrated after just a few questions on the drawdown and possible repercussions, such as the possibility the Afghan government will collapse before the Taliban without US support.
Answering the first two questions, Biden said that the withdrawal was on track to be completed by September.
As a reporter attempted to ask a third question on the subject, Biden interrupted, saying “I want to talk about happy things, man.” The reporter was permitted to ask his question though, and the president did answer it.
He said that the US military had “worked out an over-the-horizon capacity” to support the Afghan government but emphasized that the Afghans will be primarily responsible for their own security.
When another reporter tried to ask a follow-up, Biden stopped the reporter and said, “I’m not going to answer any more questions on Afghanistan. It’s the Fourth of July.”
“This is a holiday weekend. I’m going to celebrate it. There’s great things happening,” the president said, calling attention instead to purported successes with the economy, jobs, wages, and the pandemic, among other things.
Biden told the reporters that he will later “answer all your negative questions — not negative — your legitimate questions.”
—Dave Brown (@dave_brown24) July 2, 2021
Friday’s remarks are not the first time Biden has gotten testy with the press, which he has suggested is inherently “negative.”
Earlier this month, for instance, when a reporter asked if about the effectiveness of his discussions with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden responded, “Look, to be a good reporter, you’ve got to be negative. You’ve got to have a negative view of life, it seems to me.”
“You never ask a positive question,” he said.
His predecessor, Donald Trump, also frequently expressed displeasure and even anger towards the press and its mission to seek truth by challenging those in power, going so far as to use the Stalinist label of “enemy of the people” against them.