President Biden's addressed the Nation on Friday days after withering criticism over how his administration handled the fall of Afghanistan's civilian government, which prompted chaotic and violent scenes as thousands of people sought access to the airport to leave the country.
President Biden Addresses Nation On Afghanistan, with VP Harris, and Sec. Blinken standing behind him, on Friday, August 20, 2021. (Screenshot/White House live feed)
(WeekenderNJ) – President Joe Biden on Friday addressed the nation on the chaotic evacuations taking place at Kabul's airport as American forces scramble to remove US citizens and Afghans from the country.
The President’s remarks meant to restore a sense of calm to a situation that had caused an international outcry and a trying week for his administration, though he ultimately gave few concrete answers. He took on criticism about how America's longest war is ending and addressed the suffering of Afghans with more empathy than he'd shown in two previous appearances.
He also acknowledged that he did not know how many Americans were still in the country, or if they could ultimately be brought out safely.
“Let me be clear: Any American who wants to come home, we will get you home,” Mr. Biden said, before adding, “I cannot promise what the final outcome will be, or that it will be without the risk of loss.
Notwithstanding were some of his comments that did match with the conditions on the ground, and Mr. Biden’s remarks seemed to dismiss international outcry over how his administration has handled the failed war in Afghanistan.
Though he ultimately gave few concrete answers, Mr. Biden offered an overview of the evacuation mission, recounting all-out efforts by U.S. troops over the last several days.
Still, scenes from the ground and reports from outside Hamid Karzai International Airport growing increasingly desperate combined with a mayhem evacuation process, Mr. Biden said the United States is pulling off "one of the largest, most difficult airlifts in history."
He committed to evacuating all Afghans who assisted in the war effort and said the US was also working to find flights for vulnerable women, journalists, and others who could be targeted by the Taliban.
The President's speech came after days of increased desperation of people reaching out to news outlets, and growing criticism over how his administration prepared for the fall of Afghanistan's civilian government, which prompted chaotic and violent scenes as thousands of people sought access to the airport to leave the country.
Top members of his national security team, Vice President Kamala Harris and Secretary of State Antony Blinken signaled President Biden’s continued confidence in the people navigating the crisis. Although Vice President Harris has only a crash course in foreign policy.
Biden said Friday there would be "plenty of time to criticize and second guess this operation," but insisted that for now he was focused on "getting this job done."
The President stressed the United States was doing everything it could to provide safe evacuations for its Afghans such as women leaders and journalists, who may be targeted because of their association with the United States.
Full Speech: President Biden Addresses Nation On Afghanistan
He added the United States established contact with the Taliban to allow - safe passage of people to the airport - and said the US has communicated that any attack on US forces or disruption of its operations at the airport would be "met with a swift and forceful response."
For Americans and Afghans hoping to reach the airport in Kabu either from the city itself or from cities and towns further afield – safe passage is not guaranteed. American officials have not publicly said how long they hope the fragile accord will hold ahead of Mr. Biden’s total withdrawal by August 31st.