President Joe Biden on Sunday said that he believes history will show he made the correct decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan despite the fall of the country’s government to the Taliban.
Speaking at the White House Sunday, Biden said the United States has successfully evacuated more than 33,000 people from Afghanistan while stating the process would continue to be difficult.
“I think that history is going to record that this was the logical, rational, and right decision to make,” Biden said.
Biden said that the United States had evacuated 11,000 individuals from Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul in the past 36 hours, bringing the total removed from the country to 33,000 since July.
He added that the United States has set up processing stations in third countries “working with more than two dozen countries across four continents” for Afghan allies and other vulnerable Afghans such as women leaders and journalists as they are evacuated.
“Once screened and cleared, we will welcome these Afghans … to their new home in the United States of America,” Biden said.
However, the president added that the United States still has “a long way to go, and a lot could still go wrong.”
“The evacuation of thousands of people from Kabul is going to be hard and painful no matter when it started, when we began,” he said. “It would have been true if we had started a month ago, or a month from now. There is no way to evacuate this many people without pain.”
The president said there are currently discussions within the administration on whether to extend U.S. presence beyond the Aug. 31 deadline he set for withdrawal, adding, “our hope is we will not have to extend.
In defending his decision to withdraw military forces, Biden said the primary goal of the United States’ presence in Afghanistan was to track down and kill Osama bin Laden and that continued presence no longer serves the national interest.
“I had a basic decision to make, I either withdraw America from a 20-year war … or I end the war,” Biden said, noting the economic and human toll of the war. “And I decided to end the war.”