White House: ‘Heartbreaking’ scenes from Afghanistan ‘not acceptable’ to Biden
White House communications director Kate Bedingfield said Friday that the scenes of chaos in Afghanistan following the collapse of the Afghan government are “not acceptable” to President Biden as she defended the execution of the U.S. withdrawal from the war-torn country.
During an interview with the hosts of MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” Bedingfield was asked if the president had any regrets over the circumstances of the withdrawal.
“Of course these scenes are heartbreaking. Of course the images that we’ve seen over the last week are difficult. I think at any time when a government and a 300,000-person army essentially melts away, there’s going to be some level of chaos. That doesn’t make it acceptable. It’s not acceptable to the president,” Bedingfield said.
Bedingfield insisted that the Biden administration was prepared for all contingencies, including the current situation, and that officials are working to evacuate Americans and Afghans who assisted U.S. forces at a rapid pace.
“That’s why he has directed the Department of Defense to move to get every American out of Afghanistan who wants to get out, to get our Afghan allies out of Afghanistan. It’s why we’re able to have flights taking off and the numbers of people we’re seeing continue to increase each day that we’re moving out of the country,” Bedingfield said.
“There is no question, of course those scenes of chaos are heartbreaking, but we are working to get every American out of Afghanistan who wants to get out of Afghanistan,” she added.
Biden, who has been widely criticized for the execution of the U.S. withdrawal from the 20-year war, has forcefully defended his decision to leave Afghanistan. During an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday, the president said he believed the withdrawal could not have been executed without chaos ensuing.
“No, I don’t think it could have been handled in a way that, we’re gonna go back in hindsight and look — but the idea that somehow there’s a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don’t know how that happens. I don’t know how that happened,” Biden said.
Biden has said that he bears responsibility for the situation but has also shifted blame onto others, including Afghan’s security forces, who collapsed under the Taliban onslaught much quicker than U.S. officials anticipated.
Biden has also said the Trump administration’s deal with the Taliban to leave Afghanistan forced him to choose between drawing down the way he did or ramping up U.S. forces in the country.
Biden is slated to deliver remarks from the White House Friday afternoon about the status of evacuation efforts, which have been hampered by violence and chaos in and around Kabul’s international airport. The Taliban, which took control of the country on Sunday, have reportedly beaten people and blocked roads surrounding the airport.
On Thursday, the U.S. evacuated roughly 3,000 people from Hamid Karzai International Airport on 16 military flights, including 350 U.S. citizens, according to a White House official. Thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Afghans hoping to get out of Afghanistan are believed to still be in the country.
Biden said during the ABC interview that U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan until all Americans are evacuated, even if that means staying beyond the Aug. 31 deadline for withdrawal that he set earlier this year.
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