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Defiant Biden rejects criticism of Afghan exit, points to Afghan military and Trump

EconomyAug 31, 2021 10:07PM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks about Afghanistan, from the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S. August 26, 2021. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo 2/2

By Jeff Mason and Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden on Tuesday defiantly rejected criticism of his decision to stick to a deadline to pull out of Afghanistan this week, a move that left up to 200 Americans in the country along with thousands of U.S.-aligned Afghan citizens.

In a televised address, Biden offered a sweeping defense of his handling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, saying he inherited an unstable situation from his predecessor, Republican Donald Trump, and that the 20-year war "should have ended long ago."

"I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit," he said, his voice rising with emotion as he spoke.[nL1N2Q2055]

Biden's handling of the withdrawal has drawn sharp criticism from Republicans and his own Democrats as well as foreign allies, punctured his job approval ratings and raised questions about his judgment.

The fate of Americans and Afghans who were not able to get on the last U.S. flights out of Kabul airport this week after the Taliban took over the capital remains a top concern.

U.S. officials believe 100 to 200 Americans remain in Afghanistan "with some intention to leave," Biden said. He said most of those who remained were dual citizens and long-time residents who earlier had decided to stay, and added the United States was determined to get them out if they wanted to go.

Many lawmakers had called on Biden to extend the Aug. 31 deadline to allow more Americans and Afghans to escape. He said on Tuesday it was not an arbitrary deadline, and that sticking to it was aimed at saving lives.

"I take responsibility for the decision. Now some say we should have started mass evacuations sooner and couldn't this ... have been done in a more orderly manner. I respectfully disagree," he said from the White House State Dining Room.

The White House said it had enormous leverage over the Taliban, including access to the global marketplace, that could be used to ensure Americans get out of the country.

Biden said a deal brokered by the Trump administration last year authorized the release of 5,000 prisoners, including some of the Taliban's top war commanders.

"By the time I came to office, the Taliban was in its strongest military position since 2001, controlling or contesting nearly half of the country," he said.

Even if evacuations had begun in June or July, Biden said there still would have been a late rush to the airport by people wanting to leave.

He criticized the ousted Afghan government's inability to fight back against swift Taliban advances, which forced the United States and its NATO allies into a hasty and humiliating exit.

Biden met now-exiled Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani in the Oval Office in June and called him an old friend; in a July call https://www.reuters.com/world/exclusive-call-before-afghan-collapse-biden-pressed-ghani-change-perception-2021-08-31 he promised Ghani he would "fight hard, diplomatically, politically, economically" to support his government.

But on Tuesday, Biden said "the people of Afghanistan watched their own government collapse and their president flee amid the corruption and malfeasance, handing over the country to their enemy, the Taliban, and significantly increasing the risk to U.S. personnel and our allies."

The departure of the last U.S. troops this week caps two decades of military involvement in Afghanistan that Biden was determined to end.

While most Americans agreed with him, the chaotic and deadly nature of that end will present fresh challenges in the months ahead.

Biden's presidency, which had been focused on fighting the coronavirus pandemic and rebuilding the economy, now faces political probes over the handling of the withdrawal as well as the logistical challenge of finding new homes for thousands of Afghans being moved to U.S. military bases.

Biden also must contend with a surge in coronavirus infections, disasters like hurricanes and wildfires, and a series of difficult deadlines https://www.reuters.com/world/us/biden-faces-gauntlet-deadlines-afghanistan-infrastructure-budget-2021-08-25 to get signature spending measures through Congress.

Republicans and some Democrats have expressed frustration and anger at how fast Afghanistan fell to the Taliban, the former leaders who were ousted by the United States after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, and what they call a botched withdrawal.

Republicans are expected to use the crisis to try to derail Biden's policy and legislative agenda and as a talking point in the 2022 midterm elections. Republicans hope to take control of the Senate and House of Representatives from Biden's Democrats, which could hobble the second half of his presidential term.

Less than 40% of Americans approve of Biden's handling of the withdrawal, and three quarters wanted U.S. forces to remain in the country until all American civilians could get out, according to a Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Monday.

Leading House Republicans, including the top Republican on the Foreign Affairs Committee, Michael McCaul, said they wrote on Monday to Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, requesting details of the plan to repatriate Americans and evacuate others left behind.

“Congress has a right to know how these evacuations will be facilitated and conducted,” McCaul said in a statement.

Defiant Biden rejects criticism of Afghan exit, points to Afghan military and Trump
 

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Comments (23)
Catholic Man
CatholicMan Sep 02, 2021 9:04AM ET
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You can reject the truth all you want, but the American people know you are a failure.
Forex Harbingers
Forex Harbingers Sep 01, 2021 1:24PM ET
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This was Trumps deal, all you had to do was follow the protocol and it would have gone smoothly. Instead you botched it, evaced the troops before clearing out and now have the blood of Americans on your hands because of your ineptitude. But they, slight of hand and all.
Bob Collins
Bob Collins Sep 01, 2021 7:57AM ET
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Stolen elections have catastrophic consequences.
Tre Hsi
Tre Hsi Sep 01, 2021 7:57AM ET
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have you stayed in your parents' basement all this time since Nov?
Forex Harbingers
Forex Harbingers Sep 01, 2021 7:57AM ET
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Oh! you mean like how its been discovered that there are 73,000 more mail in ballots counted than the amount of people registered from the 2020 election? Weird
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Sep 01, 2021 2:20AM ET
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ray saini, we have a lot of Trump true believers on this site who can't handle the truth about Trump, and his administrations' notorious incompetent behavior. his lack of concern for American national security was quite obvious during his administration. the facts are, he freed the Taliban leadership from prison along with 5000 terrorists. his lack of preperation, his signing a peace treaty giving the Taliban every thing they wanted left the present administration between a rock and a hard place. Trump and his administration have a big piece of this fieaso.
Bob Collins
Bob Collins Sep 01, 2021 2:20AM ET
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Tool
Ray Saini
Ray Saini Sep 01, 2021 12:13AM ET
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"defiant" is nice. investing making switch. gj
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Aug 31, 2021 11:47PM ET
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Republicans are rich. Lead usa into two “forever wars” and then complain when someone shuts it down. If they knew how to end it they would have. Unless the goal was to keep spending trillions forever, and they call the dems big spenders lol
Ray Saini
Ray Saini Aug 31, 2021 11:47PM ET
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President Trump didn't start any war, actually he stopped one. and this old freak biden didn't shut it down, he just don't have control and was kicked out by Taliban. he didn't want to loose opium money of course.
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Aug 31, 2021 11:25PM ET
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People need to ask why military intel lead us in with no chance of success and lead us out while isis remains
Green Mango
Green Mango Aug 31, 2021 11:10PM ET
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Ooooh.... he's "defiant" and "rejects" criticism. I see, like when you employer fires you for screwing up and you "reject" that, and are "defiant". These people are the worst ever. And this mainstream press article is an effort to minimize acknowledging the disaster
Green Mango
Green Mango Aug 31, 2021 11:10PM ET
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Hey your dog took a big dump on my lawn!! Oh, I defiantly reject that criticism!
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Aug 31, 2021 11:10PM ET
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Green Mango same situation under Trump and i bet you turn into a grovelling simp for big daddy trump
Ray Saini
Ray Saini Aug 31, 2021 11:10PM ET
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Benjamin McIntire  Trump had control of Army because he's president of people. and this halfdead you trying to defend president of elites and can't control even guards on his own "inauguration".
Gary SKY saw
Gary SKY saw Aug 31, 2021 10:43PM ET
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Blame on China.. Ez way out, American will believe it
Ferdinando Riboni
Ferdinando Riboni Aug 31, 2021 9:55PM ET
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Biden is a horrible person
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Aug 31, 2021 8:52PM ET
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trump negotiated this withdrawal, starting with his release of the Taliban leadership and 5000 terrorists. trump has set up the new administration for failure. Trump has proven again, his incompetence, and abilities at puting American national security in Jeopardy.
Jeff Pugliese
Jeffro Aug 31, 2021 8:52PM ET
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Yeah, jusy like Biden follow every other Trump program
Benjamin McIntire
Benjamin McIntire Aug 31, 2021 8:52PM ET
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Jeff Pugliese the one he followed was pure disaster. Should have known.
Ray Saini
Ray Saini Aug 31, 2021 8:52PM ET
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nobody supporting you. even here.
Transparent Labs
Transparent Labs Aug 31, 2021 8:34PM ET
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All politicians reject criticism especially when the empire is collapsing! They always pass the blame.
Ray Saini
Ray Saini Aug 31, 2021 8:34PM ET
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especially when they surrender and selling country to China.
Mark Stallone
Mark Stallone Aug 31, 2021 7:21PM ET
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I wonder how many Americans/Afgan allies are going to be publicly beheaded on 9-11. One, two, a dozen? Thanks Biden.
American Truth
American Truth Aug 31, 2021 7:12PM ET
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this guy calling someone else corrupt....are you kidding me?
The Watcher
Watcher412 Aug 31, 2021 7:12PM ET
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Remember Hunter Biden Ukraine deal - US politicians are always corrupt!
Bill Melton
Bill Melton Aug 31, 2021 6:40PM ET
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Biden wants credit for getting US out of Afghanistan but blame others for deaths, timeline, etc. In other words, he wants it both ways. He hasn't grasp the difference between politics and leadership. Neither has Kamala: She hasn't been to Europe, too.
Rick Karstedt
Rick Karstedt Aug 31, 2021 6:36PM ET
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Fake president
Jo Pa
Jo Pa Aug 31, 2021 6:31PM ET
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Dherrrrr
Southern Tiger
Southern Tiger Aug 31, 2021 4:50PM ET
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So I guess the time I spent in Afghanistan and Iraq meant nothing.
Ray Saini
Ray Saini Aug 31, 2021 4:50PM ET
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but you got something from opium sales?
Daadir Boonge
Daadir Boonge Aug 31, 2021 4:46PM ET
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💯
Raymond Huggard
Raymond Huggard Aug 31, 2021 4:26PM ET
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Blowhard bully Buden fails badly and blames others. He needs to go.
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Aug 31, 2021 4:26PM ET
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the withdrawl would have been even worse under paranoid, incompetent blowhard bully Trump.
Kris GE
Kris GE Aug 31, 2021 4:26PM ET
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Ac Tektrader  Really. How is Biden competency looking on the southern border, you blind and mindless p....s$$t? Remember, no border, no country. Speaking about competency. Most of the time Biden does not know where he is, and what time of the day it is, because he takes a nap at every time he gets to sit down for 5 minutes. I hope they keep away his suitcase with nuclear code, because when he suddenly  wakes up he may launch a nuke incidentally.
Ac Tektrader
Ac Tektrader Aug 31, 2021 4:26PM ET
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sounds like you're talking about Trump. with Trump he spent most of his time watching Fox news, and spouting crazy conspiracy theories. then there's the blame game he used, to cover up his screwups,and we shouldn't forget his constant support for anti democratic organizations and militas that want to overthrow American Democracy.
Ray Saini
Ray Saini Aug 31, 2021 4:26PM ET
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Ac Tektrader  President Trump didn't start any war, actually he stopped one.
Silence Dogood
Silence Dogood Aug 31, 2021 4:26PM ET
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Disgusting POS!!!
Southern Tiger
Southern Tiger Aug 31, 2021 4:19PM ET
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Sad! Our country could have left Afghanistan better than that. So my time with OEF and OIF meant nothing. Thank Joe Biden for making America Last Again!
Andy Brinkhaus
Andy Brinkhaus Aug 31, 2021 4:19PM ET
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20 years and no sign of ending. No more sunken costs fallacy, if there's no decisive victory in 20 years then it was never gonna happen.
Daadir Boonge
Daadir Boonge Aug 31, 2021 4:19PM ET
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👍
Southern Tiger
Southern Tiger Aug 31, 2021 4:19PM ET
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We should have left in 2011. American foreign policy is a mess and if you need to withdraw a military atleast plan. The way we left made our country look bad.
palmer gossett
palmer gossett Aug 31, 2021 4:07PM ET
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We're Out!!!! No more discussion...
Southern Tiger
Southern Tiger Aug 31, 2021 4:07PM ET
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it was a terrible way to leave
Raymond Huggard
Raymond Huggard Aug 31, 2021 4:07PM ET
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13 dead, needs much discussion.
Sabi Sab
SabiSab Aug 31, 2021 4:07PM ET
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13 dead.  At least 100+ Americans with US passports left behind, not counting those unknown ones.  If you are one of them, would you like to have that kind of treatment by your own government  We pay tax to USA each year no matter where we live as American citizens for a reason, damn it!
Jody Darden
Jody Darden Aug 31, 2021 4:07PM ET
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Sabi Sab they are going to retaliate for being left behind.. just like osama was left behind
palmer gossett
palmer gossett Aug 31, 2021 4:07PM ET
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What I said above was sarcasm. All I've seen is these immoral democrats sweeping their mess under the rug. Joe Biden could care less about any of you. Just watch the video of him checking the time on his watch continuously when our fallen soldiers were coming home. Like he had somewhere else better to be. F this administration. And thanks to all of our brave soldiers
 
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