US President Joe Biden has said that he will keep American troops in Afghanistan until all American citizens have been evacuated from the country, even if it means missing his August 31 deadline for withdrawing troops.
Biden said during an interview with ABC on Wednesday that the US will "do everything in our power" to evacuate US citizens and Afghan allies from Afghanistan after the Taliban took control of the country last week.
The President also responded to critics of his withdrawal plan and claimed that there was no way to withdraw without causing chaos.
"The idea that somehow there's a way to have gotten out without chaos ensuing, I don't know how that happens," Biden told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News.
However, Biden admitted that American intelligence did not foresee such a rapid advance of Taliban forces and such a rapid collapse of the Afghan military.
Biden told Stephanopoulos that he plans to evacuate 15,000 American citizens from Afghanistan in addition to 65,000 Afghan citizens who aided the US war effort.
He said that US troops would remain in the country past his August 31 deadline to ensure the safe evacuation of American citizens.
"If there's American citizens left, we're gonna stay to get them all out," he told ABC.
Roughly 6,000 Americans have evacuated Afghanistan since August 14 when the Taliban overran the capital city of Kabul, while approximately 1,800 people were evacuated on 10 C-17s on Wednesday.
Biden said that the Taliban was cooperating with the US evacuation plan but that US forces were facing "difficulties" evacuating Afghan allies.
"They're cooperating, letting American citizens get out, American personnel get out, embassies get out, et cetera. But they're having-- we're having some more difficulty in having those who helped us when we were in there--"
Biden's handling of the crisis in Afghanistan has attracted criticism from several right-wing conservatives, including Wyoming Senator Liz Cheney.
Cheney, who has opposed the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, described Biden's handling of the crisis as a "truly ignorant and shameful performance by an American president".
Kelly-Anne Conway, who served as Donald Trump's former senior counselor, described Biden's performance on Afghanistan as "shameful", while right-wing Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton also condemned the President.
"No way to avoid this chaos? That's a bald-faced lie. Joe Biden is as dishonest as he is impotent," Cotton wrote on Twitter.
No way to avoid this chaos? That's a bald-faced lie.
Joe Biden is as dishonest as he is impotent. https://t.co/cCkOs0n8Kb— Tom Cotton (@TomCottonAR) August 18, 2021
Earlier in the week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the return of the Taliban as "particularly dramatic and terrible" and suggested that the US had decided to withdraw partly because of "domestic political reasons".
"It is terrible for the millions of Afghans who had worked for a freer society and who, with the support of the Western community, have focused on democracy, on education, on women’s rights," Merkel said.
Meanwhile, Biden "astonished" several top officials in the British Government when he claimed that nation-building had never been a goal for the US.
Politico's Alex Wickham described Biden's comments as "Trump-level disingenuousness" and said that his comments had shocked the British Government.
"In 2003, Biden explicitly said: 'The alternative to nation-building is chaos, a chaos that churns out blood-thirsty warlords, drug traffickers, and terrorists, Wickham wrote.
One of the many obviously untrue statements in Biden’s speech last night: that nation-building was never a goal. In 2003 Biden himself explicitly said it was. In fact he said there was no alternative to it. Trump-level disingenuousness that has astonished the British govt pic.twitter.com/wiGqpWImIW— Alex Wickham (@alexwickham) August 17, 2021