On Wednesday, President Biden declined to offer his opinion on whether he would do anything differently in Afghanistan. He said that he does not know how the U.S. Without causing chaos, he could pull out of Afghanistan. In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos the president made these comments. It was the first time that he has answered questions from journalists since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan.
“So, you don’t believe this could have happened — this exit could be handled better in any manner, no mistakes.” Stephanopoulos asked Biden in a clip of the interview posted Wednesday.
“No, I don’t believe it could have been managed in a manner that, we’re gonna look back in hindsight — but the idea of somehow, there’s a route to get out without chaos ensuing. I don’t know how that happens,” replied the president. “I don’t know how that happened.”
Stephanopoulos asked Stephanopoulos if this was “always priced into a decision.”
“Yes,” replied the president, adding that “Now exactly what occurred, I haven’t priced in.”
The president has defended his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and the timing, even amid the spectacle of chaos at Kabul’s airport, where thousands of Americans and Afghans who helped the U.S. are stuck and desperately trying to leave.
Stephanopoulos was told by Mr. Biden that the Taliban is “cooperating” and letting American citizens escape. However, he added that the U.S. has “some difficulty having those who helped when we were there.”
The U.S. Embassy has informed Americans that it cannot guarantee safe passage to Kabul’s airport. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Wednesday that the U.S. military doesn’t have the capability to collect large numbers of people.
It is not clear if the thousands of troops who were sent to Afghanistan to facilitate the evacuation of the country are going to stay, or if they will be staying in Kabul after August 31.
According to Ned Price, a spokesperson for the State Department, more than 3,000 Americans have been expelled from the country so far. Nearly 2,000 Afghan special immigrants have also been relocated by the U.S. military. Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, stated Tuesday that there are approximately 11,000 Americans living in the country. Since the U.S. hasn’t been providing transportation to the airport, the U.S. relies on the Taliban for assurances that Americans will be allowed to travel to the airport. CBS News learned that the State Department is optimizing outreach to American citizens and other Afghans based on past experience.
Democratic lawmakers are vowing to investigate what went wrong with U.S. intelligence and decision-making that led to the scenes unfolding on television. Senator Mark Warner, the top Democrat in the Senate Intelligence Committee said earlier this week that he would work with other committees and ask “tough, but necessary” questions about why the U.S. was not better prepared.
Monday was the last time President Obama addressed Afghanistan publically and the first time since Kabul fell under the Taliban. He acknowledged that the withdrawal from Afghanistan had been difficult and complicated, but he stood firm in his decision. Jake Sullivan, national security advisor, stated Tuesday that the president is responsible for all decisions regarding Afghanistan.
“I stand firm behind my decision. “I’ve learned the hard lesson over the past 20 years — that there was never an appropriate time to withdraw U.S forces,” Mr. Biden stated Monday.