President Joe Biden said that the withdrawal from Afghanistan was an “extraordinary success” contrary to news reports. Biden appeared in a televised address to the nation 24 hours after the last plane left Kabul airport.
The President insisted they completed the task. This is despite reports saying that hundreds of Americans were left behind.
Was It An Extraordinary Success?
“As we close 20 years of war and strife and pain and sacrifice, it’s time to look to the future, not the past,” Biden said. He talked for 26 minutes and often showed a defensive President justifying his decisions.
The telecast, originally scheduled at 130 pm Eastern, aired around 3:30 pm. Despite questions from the White House press, Biden refused to deviate from his speech and did not respond to queries.
However, Biden did confirm that some Americans were in fact left behind Afghanistan. Between 100 to 200 Americans who wanted to leave the country remain stranded in Taliban-controlled territory.
The President then assured the American people that “there is no deadline” in getting the stranded Americans out. Also, Biden did not allude to his promise to stay in Afghanistan until they evacuate all Americans in the area.
Biden’s Extraordinary Success Meant 90% Americans Evacuated
Instead, Biden adjusted the goals. “The bottom line, 90 percent of Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave were able to leave,” Biden said. Afterward, he detailed efforts made by State Department officials to warn US citizens and friendly Afghans of the need to get out.
“Since March, we reached out 19 times to Americans in Afghanistan with multiple warnings and offers of help to leave Afghanistan – all the way back as far as March,” the president said with exasperation in his voice.
“In the 17 days we operated in Kabul after the Taliban seized power, we engaged in an around-the-clock effort to provide every American the opportunity to leave. Our State Department was working 24/7, contacting and talking, and in some cases walking Americans into the airport,” he added.
Biden Disagrees With Critics About Evacuation Proceedings
In addition, Biden insisted that they did the best they could under the circumstances. He said he respectfully disagrees with critics. They accused the administration of acting too late, which prevented them from withdrawing in a more orderly fashion.
“Imagine if we’d begun evacuations in June or July, bringing in thousands of American troops and evacuating more than 120,000 people in the middle of a civil war,” Biden insisted.
“There still would have been a rush to the airport, breakdown incompetence, and control of the government, and it still would have been a very difficult and dangerous mission. The bottom line is, there is no evacuation from the end of a war that you can run without the kinds of complexities, challenges, and threats we faced, none,” he added.
Biden Shifts Blame On Trump
As usual, Biden ended his speech by passing the blame to others. He first blamed the Afghanistan government that folded as soon as US forces withdrew.
Next, he went after his favorite fall guy: former President Donald Trump. “The Afghan security forces, after two decades of fighting for their country, and losing thousands of their own, did not hold as long as anyone expected.
The people of Afghanistan watched their own government collapse and their president flee into corruption and malfeasance, handing over the country to their enemy, the Taliban, and significantly increasing the risk to US personnel and our allies,” he complained.
Then, the President turned his eye on his predecessor. He said that the ceasefire agreement brokered by Trump between the US and the Taliban led to a May 1 schedule for withdrawal.
This left him without any additional options. “We were left with a simple decision: either follow through on the commitment made by the last administration and leave Afghanistan or say we weren’t leaving and commit another tens of thousands more troops, going back to war.
That was the choice, the real choice, between leaving or escalating. I was not going to extend this forever war,” he added.
Watch the CNBC News coverage of President Joe Biden’s speech on the US withdrawal from Afghanistan:
Do you agree with President Joe Biden for calling the withdrawal from Afghanistan an extraordinary success? Or, do you think it’s the polar opposite of what success means?
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