During a press conference with Vice President Kamala Harris on Sunday, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said America’s image on the world stage now hangs in the balance following the Afghanistan withdrawal.
According to the prime minister, global “perceptions” of the United States will be determined over the next few weeks as the country grapples with the current crisis unfolding in Afghanistan.
“What will influence perceptions of US resolve and commitment to the region will be what the US does going forward – how it repositions itself in the region; how it engages its broad range of friends and partners and allies in the region; and how it continues the fight against terrorism,” said Lee.
“Countries make calculations and take positions, and they have to make recalculations and adjust their positions from time to time. Sometimes it can be done smoothly; sometimes there are hiccups; sometimes things go awry and take time to put right,” he added.
Earlier, the prime minister said that he “understands” President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan given the difficult situation.
“We understand President Biden’s reasons for his decision,” said Lee. “The US intervention has stopped terrorist groups from using Afghanistan as a safe base for 20 years. For this, Singapore is grateful. We hope Afghanistan does not become an epicenter for terrorism again.”
“Post-Afghanistan, in the longer term, what matters is how the US repositions itself in the Asia Pacific, engages the broader region, and continues the fight against terrorism, because that will determine the perceptions, of the countries, of the US Global priorities, and of its strategic intentions,” he added.
Since Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, American allies have quickly begun to question President Biden’s ability to lead the United States.
“The Biden administration has sparked some concern among allies with the messy nature of evacuating troops and personnel from Afghanistan, as well as Afghan civilians who aided the American war effort,” reported the Hill.
“British officials were frustrated they were not more closely consulted given the number of forces they have in the country, and the White House has faced questions in recent days about whether South Korea, Taiwan, Israel or others who rely on U.S. military protection should be concerned given what’s unfolding in Afghanistan,” it added.
U.K. MP Tom Tugendhat, the conservative chair of the foreign affairs committee and a veteran of the war in Afghanistan, said during a session of parliament last week that Biden’s comments following the U.S. withdrawal were “shameful.”
“To see their commander-in-chief [the U.S. president, Joe Biden] call into question the courage of men I fought with – to claim that they ran – is shameful,” he said.