On Tuesday, President Joe Biden addressed the nation regarding the completion of the withdrawal of the U.S. military presence from Afghanistan, which coincided with a sweeping operation to evacuate thousands upon thousands of individuals (including many Americans) from the country. Across the past several weeks or so, the U.S. either evacuated or facilitated the evacuation of over 120,000 people from Afghanistan, and these evacuations proceeded in part after the Taliban had taken over Kabul. Is this remarkably high number of evacuations the mark of a struggling presidential administration? Obviously, it is not, and on Tuesday, Biden stood firm.
As Biden put it in his Tuesday speech:
‘The extraordinary success of this mission was due to the incredible skill, bravery, and selfless courage of the United States military and our diplomats and intelligence professionals. For weeks, they risked their lives to get American citizens, Afghans who helped us, and citizens of our allies and partners and others onboard planes and out of the country, and they did it facing a crush of enormous crowds, seeking to leave the country.’
Watch that portion of Biden’s Tuesday remarks below:
Pres. Biden on U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan: "The extraordinary success of this mission was due to the incredible skill, bravery, and selfless courage of the United States military and our diplomats and intelligence professionals."https://t.co/Wfv8QKQBYU pic.twitter.com/CE4d6TSm6Y
— ABC News (@ABC) August 31, 2021
Biden also directly addressed those who have criticized the Biden administration’s handling of the departure of the U.S. military presence from Afghanistan. As reported by CNN’s Manu Raju, Biden commented on Tuesday as follows:
‘Now some say we should have started mass evacuations sooner. Couldn’t it have have been done in a more orderly manner? I respectfully disagree… My predecessor made a deal with the Taliban. I came into office we faced a deadline, May 1. The Taliban onslaught was coming. We faced one of two choices. Follow the agreement… extend to have more time for people to get out or send in thousands more troops and escalate.’
Biden: "My predecessor made a deal with the Taliban. I came into office we faced a deadline, May 1. The Taliban onslaught was coming. We faced one of two choices. Follow the agreement .. extend to have more time for people to get out or send in thousands more troops and escalate"
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) August 31, 2021
It’s true — the Trump administration struck a deal with the Taliban to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan, and although it’s been pointed out that the Taliban didn’t take over Afghanistan until Biden took office, the original deadline in that withdrawal deal with the Taliban was May 1: after the then-upcoming presidential inauguration. Thus, the issue was pushed to the next commander-in-chief, whether that was Trump again or somebody else, right from the get-go. It was Trump’s decision to essentially elevate the Taliban with his deal-making — and it was Biden’s decision to follow through on withdrawing instead of escalating the fighting and no doubt putting even more lives in danger.
Watch the entirety of Biden’s Tuesday remarks on Afghanistan below: