Biden Asked Afghan President To Lie About Imminent Taliban Invasion
AFGHANISTAN - In a transcript of the final phone call between Joe Biden and Ashraf Ghani, the then President of Afghanistan, Biden openly told Ghani to lie about the situation in Afghanistan and change the 'perception' and 'project a different picture' to the public.
The 14 minute conversation over the phone happened on July 23rd and was obtained by Reuters, who compared the written transcription to the audio from the phone call and verified the authenticity.
During the call, Biden offered to give aid to Ghani and asked the Afghan President if he could project to the public that he had a solid plan in place to resolve the escalating situation in the country.
Biden stated, "We will continue to provide close air support, if we know what the plan is. You clearly have the best military. You have 300,000 well-armed forces versus 70-80,000, and they're clearly capable of fighting well".
A great deal of the call was centered around what Biden described as the Afghan government's problem with 'perception'. "I need not tell you the perception around the world and in parts of Afghanistan, I believe, is that things are not going well in terms of the fight against the Taliban" Biden stated.
Biden continued, "and there is a need, whether it is true or not, there is a need to project a different picture". He told Ghani that if esteemed political figures in Afghanistan were to take part in a press conference where they backed the strategy, that will 'change perception, and that will change an awful lot I think" he said.
Biden promised, "We are going to continue to fight hard, diplomatically, politically, economically, to make sure your government not only survives, but is sustained and grows".
Ghani told Biden that he thought that there could be peace if he was able to "re-balance the military solution." But he added, "We need to move with speed".
"We are facing a full-scale invasion, composed of Taliban, full Pakistani planning and logistical support, and at least 10-15,000 international terrorists, predominantly Pakistanis thrown into this" Ghani told Biden.
Both Afghan officials, as well as officials in Washington have claimed that the support of Pakistan was the key to the Taliban's resurgence, but the Pakistani Embassy in Washington has denied these claims.
"Clearly the myth of Taliban fighters crossing from Pakistan is unfortunately an excuse and an afterthought peddled by Mr. Ashraf Ghani to justify his failure to lead and govern" a Pakistani embassy spokesman told Reuters.
At the time of the phone call, the Taliban controlled around 50% of Afghanistan's districts and the Afghan military was going to shift their focus to protect 'population centers', or major cities instead of putting focus on rural parts of the country.
Biden approved of this strategy, saying that it would both help on the ground but also help boost international perception to gain world support towards the Afghan government.
Biden said, "I'm not a military guy, so I'm not telling you what a plan should precisely look like, you're going to get not only more help, but you're going to get a perception that is going to change".
Ghani said, "your assurance of support goes a very long way to enable us, to really mobilize us in earnest". Just over two weeks after the phone call however, the Taliban captured several Capitals in Afghanistan and the U.S. backed off, saying that it was up to Afghan forces to defend their country.
"These are their military forces, these are their provincial capitals, their people to defend" Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on August 9th.