President Joe Biden addressed the end of the U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan Tuesday, calling the withdrawal mission that left 13 service members dead, 18 more injured, and hundreds of Americans stranded behind enemy lines an “extraordinary success.” The president said that 90 percent of those Americans “who wanted to leave were able to leave.”
“The extraordinary success of this mission was due to the incredible skill, brav[ery], and selfish courage of the United States military and our diplomats and intelligence professionals,” Biden said.
Biden boasted about the unprecedented airlift that evacuated over 120,000 people before adding that the mission is ongoing “for those remaining Americans” in the now Taliban-controlled country. Of the hundreds of thousands evacuated, just 5,400 were Americans.
“Most of those who remain are dual citizens, long-time residents who had earlier decided to stay because of their family roots in Afghanistan. The bottom line: 90% of Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave were able to leave. For those remaining Americans, there is no deadline,” Biden said.
“We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out,” he continued. “Secretary of State [Antony] Blinken is leading the continued diplomatic efforts to ensure safe passage for any American, Afghan partner or foreign national who wants to leave Afghanistan.”
Biden reiterated that the administration had “reached out 19 times to Americans in Afghanistan” since March “with multiple warnings and offers to help them leave.”
“After we started the evacuation 17 days ago, we did initial outreach and analysis, and identified around 5,000 Americans who had decided earlier to stay in Afghanistan, but now wanted to leave,” Biden said. “Our Operation Allied Rescue ended up getting more than 5,500 Americans out.”
In July, President Biden was asked during a press conference if the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan was inevitable.
“No, it is not,” Biden said. “Because you have the Afghan troops have 300,000 well-equipped, as well-equipped as any army in the world, and an Air Force, against something like 75,000 Taliban. It is not inevitable.”
A second reporter asked the president about the intelligence community’s assessment that the Afghan government would “likely collapse” when American troops are withdrawn, to which Biden responded, “That is not true.”
“That is not true. They did not, they didn’t did not reach that conclusion,” he said, adding, “The Afghan government and leadership has to come together. They clearly have the capacity to sustain the government in place.”
Bryan Dean Wright shared video of the press conference on Twitter, calling it “the most infamous — and devastating — press conference ever held by an American President.”