President Joe Biden on Tuesday said the troop withdrawal from Kabul was an ‘extraordinary success.’
Biden steadfastly stated that the operation couldn’t have been done in a “more orderly manner” and “respectfully disagreed” with critics who said he should have started the evacuation sooner to avoid the chaos. The president also hailed the 120,000 people they have gotten to safety in “one of the biggest airlifts in history”, vowed to keep working to get Afghan allies out and said the State Department had reached out to stranded Americans 19 times since March asking if they wanted to leave.
“Let me be clear. Leaving August 31 is not due to an arbitrary deadline. It was designed to save American lives,” Biden said in his first public remarks since the final US soldier left Hamid Karzai International Airport on Monday night. After, the president took to Twitter to continue his defense of the withdrawal, saying that the US presence in Afghanistan ran counter to US national security interests, and vowed to continue supporting the Afghan people through diplomacy, international influence and aid.
“This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It is about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries,” he wrote in a series of tweets. “The fundamental obligation of a President is to defend America. Not against the threats of 2001, but against the threats of 2021 and tomorrow,” he continued. “I do not believe the safety and security of America is enhanced by continuing to deploy thousands of American troops in Afghanistan.”
August 31 was the deadline Biden set earlier this year and stuck to despite pleas from some Democratic lawmakers who were veterans and his fellow world leaders, who used a G7 virtual meeting to plead with him to keep boots on the ground longer. But Biden argued Trump, his predecessor in the Oval Office, tied his hands on the matter. He noted Trump signed a deal with the Taliban to leave by May 1 and that shackled his options.