WASHINGTON — Amid growing criticism, the White House defended their Afghanistan policy on Tuesday after a weekend of chaos and unrest saw the Taliban take over the capital of Kabul.
Speaking at the press briefing, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan defended the administration’s policy, saying it was doing the best it could to respond to the escalating situation.
“When civil war comes to an end with an opposing force marching on the capital, there are going to be scenes of chaos, there are going to be lots of people leaving the country. That is not something that can be fundamentally avoided,” Sullivan said.
President Joe Biden’s speech on Monday did little to answer questions or stop the sharp criticism. With Biden at Camp David on Tuesday, Sullivan along with White House press secretary Jen Psaki to answer questions from reporters about the troop withdrawal and what went wrong with the Afghan evacuation.
Tuesday saw more graphic and disturbing images from Afghanistan, including the Taliban seizing U.S. weapons and Afghan women living in fear and pleading for help.
The Biden administration has continued to feel the political heat from both sides, including many within their own party. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.,) said he would hold several hearings on the situation in Afghanistan, including the Biden administration’s “flawed execution of the U.S. withdrawal.”
Sullivan said at Tuesday’s briefing Biden had not spoken to any world leaders since the Taliban took over Afghanistan. However, the White House confirmed late Tuesday afternoon the President spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“They commended the bravery and professionalism of their military and civilian personnel, who are working shoulder to shoulder in Kabul on the evacuation of their citizens and Afghan nationals who assisted in the war effort,” the White House said in a readout of the call.
The White House said it would hold a virtual G-7 leaders meeting next week to discuss a common Afghan strategy.
Sullivan blamed the Afghan government for the visa delays as the reason it took so long to get the Afghan people out of the country and says the U.S. was told a mass U.S. evacuation could hurt confidence in the government.
“My heart goes out to Afghan women and girls in the country today,” Sullivan said. “Under the Taliban, we’ve seen what they’ve done before. And that’s a very hard thing for any of us to face. But this wasn’t a choice just between saving those women and girls and not saving those women and girls. The alternative choice had its own set of human costs and consequences.”