President Joe Biden defended his decision to bring an end to the 20-year war in Afghanistan. The final troops left the country on August 30, following a chaotic evacuation of U.S. citizens and our allies in the country.
"We succeeded in what we set out to do in Afghanistan over a decade ago. Then we stayed for another decade. It was time to end this war," President Biden said on Tuesday.
More than 122,000 people, including 5,400 Americans, were evacuated from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul since July. The U.S. State Department believes there are fewer than 250 American citizens still in Afghanistan, and Security of State Andrew Blinkin said roughly 100 are still trying to leave.
Biden praised the soldiers who pulled off the historic evacuation efforts.
"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 said. "For weeks, they risked their lives to get American citizens Afghans who helped us, citizens of our allies and partners and others onboard planes and out of the country," he continued. "And they did it facing a crush of enormous crowds seeking to leave the country. And they did it knowing ISIS-K terrorists, sworn enemies of the Taliban, were lurking in the midst of those crowds.
Biden vowed to make arrangements to get anybody out of Afghanistan who still wishes to leave.
"The bottom line, 90% of Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave were able to leave. For those remaining Americans, there is no deadline. We remain committed to get them out if they want to come out," Biden said.
Biden said that the world has changed since we invaded Afghanistan two decades ago.
"This is a new world: Al-Qaida affiliates in Syria and ISIS attempting to create a caliphate in Syria and Iraq and establishing affiliates across Africa nation. The fundamental obligation of a president, in my opinion, is to defend and protect America. Not against threats of 2001 but against the threats of 2021 and tomorrow."
"That is the guiding principle behind my decisions about Afghanistan," he added. "I simply do not believe that the safety and security of America is enhanced by continuing to deploy thousands of American troops and sending billions of dollars."