Biden's week of blame and tumult after Kabul fall

Declaring his support for the Afghan war decades ago, Joe Biden warned: "History is going to judge us very harshly, I believe, if we allow the hope of a liberated Afghanistan to evaporate because we are fearful of the phrase nation-building or we do not stay the course." Will this be the week that history judges his presidency?

West Wing assistants tapped at keyboards, heads down, while aides chatted away as if business as usual, belying the chaos unfolding in the wider world.

The stunning fall of Afghanistan back into Taliban hands as the US was ending its 20-year war had brought about a crisis gripping all corners from Kabul to Camp David.

Over the six days that saw Western allies forced to airlift citizens, Afghans desperately clinging to planes to leave the country and a volte-face on Mr Biden's promise to withdraw troops by 31 August, his promises of competence and strength had for some begun to ring hollow.

Heading into a week that will bring a congressional hearing on the exit and massive efforts to step up the pace of evacuations, few seemed satisfied with what little answer the administration has provided about what has been widely seen as Mr Biden's worst days of governance.

media captionWidow of US soldier killed in Afghanistan: "How are we safer today?"

Mr Biden sat alone in a conference room before a panel of faces on the screen, his national security team virtually beamed in to Camp David, the presidential retreat outside Washington where he had gone for the weekend.