Amid criticism of his administration’s efforts to get Americans and Afghan evacuees out of Afghanistan, President Joe Biden made a promise Friday: “We will get you home.” The raw video above shows clips from remarks Biden made at the White House.
His promise applies to all Americans in Afghanistan who want to come back home, as well as Afghan allies. “There’s no one more important than bringing American citizens out. I acknowledge that,” Biden said.
Thousands of people are awaiting evacuation ahead of Biden’s Aug. 31 deadline to withdraw the remaining U.S. troops. In Washington, some veterans in Congress were calling on the Biden administration to make clearer that the deadline is not a firm one. The deadline “is contributing to the chaos and the panic at the airport because you have Afghans who think that they have 10 days to get out of this country or that door is closing forever,” said Rep. Peter Meijer.
Part of the criticism Biden has received is related to videos and news reports that show the pandemonium and occasional violence seen outside the airport in Kabul. “The past week has been heartbreaking. We’ve seen gut wrenching images of panicked people acting out of sheer desperation,” Biden said. “They’re frightened, they’re sad, uncertain what happens next, I don’t think anyone I don’t think any one of us can see these pictures and not feel that pain on a human level.”
He went on to say “We’re doing all we can” in reference to the nearly 6,000 American troops helping with evacuations. “They’re doing it in a dangerous place to save other Americans, our Afghan allies and citizens of our allies, who went in with us,” Biden said. “There will be plenty of time to criticize and second guess when this operation is over. But now, now I’m focused on getting this job done.”
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Joe Biden, U.S. President: “The past week has been heartbreaking. We’ve seen gut wrenching images of panicked people acting out of sheer desperation. You know, it’s completely understandable. They’re frightened, they’re sad, uncertain what happens next, I don’t think anyone I don’t think any one of us can see these pictures and not feel that pain on a human level. Now we have a mission, a mission to complete in Afghanistan. It’s an incredibly difficult and dangerous operation for our military. We have almost 6000 of America’s finest fighting men and women at the Kabul airport. And we’re putting their lives on the line, they’re doing it in a dangerous place to save other Americans, our Afghan allies and citizens of our our our allies, who went in with us.”
“There will be plenty of time to criticize and second guess when this operation is over. But now now I’m focused on getting this job done. I would ask every American to join me in praying for the women and men risking their lives on the ground in the service of our nation.”
“Yes, yes, we’re making the same commitment. There’s no one more important than bringing American citizens out. I acknowledge that. But they’re equally important almost as all those who those SIVs, we call them, who in fact helped us. They were translators. They went into battle with us. They were part of the operation. As well as we’re also trying to get out as many NGOs, non-government organizations, women’s organizations, et cetera. We’re doing all we can.”
“Secretary Blinken and I am going to be working with our allies to see to it that we can bring international pressure on the Taliban to be… they’re looking to gain some legitimacy. They’re going to have to figure out how they’re going to maintain that country. And there’s going to be harsh conditions, very strong conditions we’re going to apply and will depend on whether they get help based on whether or not how and well they treat women and girls, how they treat their citizens. So this is just beginning on that score.”
“The threat from terrorism has metastasized. There’s a greater danger from ISIS and al-Qaida and all these affiliates in other countries by far than there is from Afghanistan. And we’re going to retain an over the horizon capability that if they were to come back to be able to take them out, surgically move. So this is this is where we should be. This is about America leading the world. And all our allies have agreed with that.”
“Past few days, I’ve also spoken directly with the British prime minister, Mr. (Boris) Johnson, Chancellor (Angela) Merkel of Germany and President (Emmanuel) Macron of France, we all agreed that we should convene and we will convene the G7 meeting next week, a group of the world’s leading democracies, so that together we can coordinate our mutual approach, our united approach on Afghanistan and moving forward. We are united with our closest partners to execute the mission at hand.”