Biden Says He Does Not Think Afghanistan Withdrawal Could Have Been Handled Better


President Joe Biden says he cannot think of a way the U.S. could have left Afghanistan without “chaos ensuing.”

In an excerpt of an interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopolous released on Wednesday afternoon, the president was asked, “So you don’t think this exit could have been handled better in any way, no mistakes?”

“No, I don’t think it could have been handled in a way that–we’re going to 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 responded.

Stephonapolous asked, “So for you, that was always priced into the decision?”

“Yes,” Biden said.

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Biden was asked if the swift fall of Afghanistan to Taliban control was the result of a “failure of intelligence, planning, execution, or judgment.”

He responded, “When you had the government of Afghanistan, the leader of that government, get in a plane and taking off and going to another country. When you saw the significant collapse of the Afghan troops we had trained…just leaving their equipment and taking off…that’s what happened.”

Do you think there was a way to avoid chaos?

When asked about videos of Afghans clinging to the sides of U.S. military jets and falling to the ground during take-off, the president said, “That was four days ago, five days ago.”

Stephanopolous asked what his reaction was when he saw those images.

“What I thought was, we have to gain control of this. We have to move this more quickly. We have to move in a way in which we can take control of that airport. And we did,” Biden said.

Biden’s comments come as the Taliban stunned administration officials with its rapid advance across the country and take over of Kabul, Afghanistan, the capital, on Sunday.

In July, he expressed confidence that the Taliban would not take over the country, saying, “The likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”

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National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told NBC News on Monday that officials were surprised by the “speed with which cities fell.”

The collapse of the Afghan government prompted thousands of people to flee to the Hamid Karzai International Airport to try to leave the country.

On Monday, images and videos surfaced of Afghan people clinging to the sides of U.S. military planes desperate to escape. Some videos showed people falling off the planes during take-off.

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