Images of unrest and desperation at the international airport in Kabul spread across the world on Monday as the Taliban took the city and thousands of Afghans sought to flee.
The chaos brought widespread criticism of the U.S. withdrawal, but President Joe Biden said on Monday afternoon that he stood "squarely behind my decision" to begin formally pulling out troops in May.
Still, the U.S. exit poses a "real chance" of destroying the Biden presidency, Eurasia Group founder and political scientist Ian Bremmer tells Yahoo Finance Editor-in-Chief Andy Serwer in a new interview. The crisis could severely undermine Biden's standing if Americans die or are taken hostage while the U.S. completes its withdrawal, Bremmer said.
"There are a lot of Americans that we want to get out of there," Bremmer says. "What if we have a hostage crisis? What if we have a firefight? What if Americans get killed? What if we end up not being able to get all these Americans out? That destroys Biden's presidency."
"There is a real chance of that happening," Bremmer adds. "It's not a 50% chance; maybe it's a 5% chance. But it is way higher than it should be."
The U.S. military on Tuesday restored order at the international airport in Kabul, as an additional 1,000 U.S. troops arrived in the country, bringing the total to 3,500, the New York Times and Washington Post reported.
Thousands of Americans as well as tens of thousands of Afghans who aided the U.S. remain in Afghanistan, the New York Times reported. In his address on Monday, Biden vowed to evacuate the Americans and offer refugee access for some vulnerable Afghans.
Speaking to Yahoo Finance, Bremmer cautioned that if the situation worsens it could approach the severity of the 1979 Iran hostage crisis, in which Iranian students took dozens of Americans hostage at the U.S. embassy amid that nation's revolution. The hostage crisis lasted 444 days, causing a sharp decline in the popularity of then-President Jimmy Carter, who lost his re-election bid to Ronald Reagan in 1980.
"This is not the Iran crisis, the hostage crisis of '79. It's not. But it could become that," Bremmer says. "There is now a proximate risk that this gets a lot worse."
Bremmer, who founded the Eurasia Group in 1998, is the author of 10 books, including “Us vs Them: The Failure of Globalism." His forthcoming book is "The Crises We Need: How to Confront the Three Greatest Dangers of Our Time," which publishes in April.
Bremmer said the Biden administration "really, really failed" in its chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, but he predicted the political damage caused by the crisis will most likely fade.
"If the only thing that happens is the debacle that we see on the ground affecting Afghans, then I'm not sure it has huge lasting effects on Biden," Bremmer says. "It makes him look more incompetent; it makes him look like he can't execute well."
"But I don't see a lot of Americans voting on the back of leaving Afghanistan one way or the other," Bremmer adds. "I really don't."
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