With U.S. troops now officially gone from Afghanistan, President Biden spoke Tuesday both in defense of his withdrawal decision and in celebration of the war's end, while simultaneously addressing the massive military evacuation effort that's received plenty of criticism from both sides of the aisle.
Biden once again said he was bound by the exit agreement former President Donald Trump's administration made with the Taliban, and he agreed it was in America's interest to withdraw from Afghanistan. The "real choice," he said, was "between leaving or escalating," and "I was not going to extend this forever war" or "a forever exit." Biden also said he views the mission as "an extraordinary success" due to the "incredible skill, [bravery], and selfless courage of the U.S. military and our diplomats and intelligence professionals."
Biden continued by addressing those who condemned what felt like the last-minute nature of the evacuations, adding that "I respectfully disagree" with the idea that mass evacuations could have began much sooner and been executed in a more orderly fashion. "There's nothing low-grade or low-risk or low-cost about any war," he added.
The president also reassured those Americans still in Afghanistan that "there is no deadline" on the U.S. commitment to bringing them home, and cautioned Islamic State affiliate ISIS-K that "we are not done with you yet."