President Joe Biden defended his policy on Afghanistan as the fallout and criticism continue to build over his administration’s handling of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the country.
Speaking to ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos on Wednesday, Biden defended his administration’s strategy as he faces criticism over the chaotic military exit along with his plans to offer booster shots to Americans.
“So you don’t think this exit could have been handled better in any way, no mistakes?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“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,” Biden said.
The President announced plans for withdrawal back in April and said the military exit would be conducted “responsibly, deliberately, and safely”.
Stephanopoulos pressed Biden if there was any miscommunication or breakdown in intelligence.
“I think there was no consensus. If you go back and look at the intelligence reports, they said that it was more likely to be sometime by the end of the year,” Biden said.
Stephanopoulos also asked Biden about his July 8 comments about the likelihood of the Taliban taking over Afghanistan was “highly unlikely”.
“The idea that the Taliban would take over was premised on the notion that somehow, the 300,000 troops we had trained and equipped was gonna just collapse, they were gonna give up,” Biden replied. “I don’t think anybody anticipated that.”
Biden committed to keeping U.S. troops in Afghanistan until every American who wants to be evacuated can be, even if it means going past his August 31 deadline.
However, he stopped short of making that same commitment for the Afghan allies, who are desperate to flee the country and are fearing for their lives from the Taliban.
Biden said he would relocate as many Afghans to the United States as possible.
“The commitment holds to get everyone out that, in fact, we can get out and everyone who should come out. And that’s the objective. That’s what we’re doing now. That’s the path we’re on. And I think we’ll get there,” he said.
The President said Afghanistan is not at the same level of extremism that it was prior to the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
“Al Qaeda, ISIS, they metastasized. There’s a significantly greater threat to the United States from Syria. There’s a significantly greater threat from East Africa,” Biden said.
Stephanopoulos closed the interview on the subject of Covid-19, which remains one of the greatest threats to the health of American citizens nearly a year and a half later. On Wednesday, the Biden administration announced plans to roll out booster shots for all Americans eight months after their second dose.
The World Health Organization slammed the decision due to other countries not being able to get vaccines for some of their populations with low income.
“We’re provided more to the rest of the world than all the rest of the world combined,” Biden said. “Before we get to the middle of next year, we’re gonna provide a half a billion shots to the rest of the world. We’re keeping our part of the bargain. We’re doing more than anybody.”