President Biden addressed the nation 24 hours after American troops fully withdrew from Afghanistan, giving a sweeping defense of his hastily chaotic evacuation efforts handling in Afghanistan in calling it an “extraordinary success,” despite 13 U.S. service members were killed in the final days as hundreds of Americans and Afghan allies are left stranded while pinning the blame for the disaster that unfolded on others besides himself.
“We completed one of the biggest airlifts in history, with more than 120,000 people evacuated to safety. That number is more than double what most experts thought were possible. No nation has ever done anything like it in all of history. Only the United States had the capacity and the will and the ability to do it, and we did it today,” Biden proclaimed in an address to the nation on the U.S ending 20 years of war in Afghanistan from the White HousePress room.
“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,” Biden added.
In 25-minute teleprompter remarks delivered in a loud and angry tone, flawed with repetitive statements and claims previously made during the handful of times Biden spoke over the last two weeks updating the nation on the Afghanistan evacuation efforts. In remarks addressing the end of America’s longest war, Biden continued to place the blame for the chaos that unfolded during the withdrawal efforts in the war-torn country on former President Trump and the Afghan government.
Biden once again repeated the dishonest claim that his administration’s hands were tied by an agreement set by the Trump administration with the Taliban back in February 2020, which included a U.S. pledge to remove troops from Afghanistan. However, Trump’s agreement had a conditions-based clause, where the U.S. could have withdrawn anytime from the accord if Afghan peace talks failed to reach a negotiated settlement, which the Taliban had already nullified when Biden became president. Despite the conditions-based clause, Biden was hellbent on withdrawing before the 20th anniversary of Sept. 11 for a photo op that he decided to stay in the agreement, refusing to make any adjustments to the military plan amid warning of a likely collapsed Afghan government and only focused on changing the complete pullout date from May 1 to August 31.
“The previous administration’s agreement said that if we stuck to the May 1st deadline that they had signed on to leave by, the Taliban wouldn’t attack any American forces,” Biden said. “But if we stayed, all bets were off, so 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 ten of thousands of more troops going back to war. That was the choice. The real choice between leaving or escalating.”
The president also criticized the ousted Afghan government’s inability to fight back against swift Taliban advances that led the U.S into a hasty and humiliating exit.
“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,” Biden lamented. “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 defended his administration’s withdrawal and praised the evacuation effort, declaring that despite the military deadline to evacuate the remaining Americans still in Afghanistan, diplomatic efforts will continue led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Biden maintained that the vast majority of Americans were able to depart the country, saying the efforts by the U.S military helped get “90 percent of Americans who wanted to leave” out of the Taliban-controlled country.
However, Biden appeared to get the numbers wrong during his address, misstating the “90 percent” of Americans who managed to get out. According to the White House official transcript released late Tuesday evening, the word “Ninety” with a strikethrough adding “Ninety-eight” in parentheses. The Biden administration still has yet to provide an exact number of U.S citizens flown out of Afghanistan during the withdrawal operation or the exact number who currently remain.
Biden referenced the 13 service members’ lives killed during the final days of the Afghan mission.
“Twenty service members were wounded in the service of this mission. Thirteen heroes gave their lives,” Biden said. “We owe them and their families a debt of gratitude we can never repay, but we should never, ever, ever forget.”
The most dishonest declaration from Biden came when he stated that “the war in Afghanistan is now over.” The Taliban have won a major victory in the longest U.S war, celebrating the win where the Islamic militant now controls the majority of the country without any U.S. presence and seizing over $85 billion of brand new U.S. weapons.
Biden’s remarks delivered from the White House State Dining Room were initially scheduled the night before for 1:30 p.m Eastern, but earlier on Tuesday, the White House pushed back the time and scheduled it for 2:45 p.m Eastern. However, Biden was 45 minutes late and raucously began at exactly 3:29 p.m Eastern, just 24 hours after the last American C-17 military plane departed Kabul’s international airport. Following his 25-minute remarks, Biden ignored White House Press corp shouting question, turning his back — a symbol that has marked his overall handling to a crisis he helped fuel.