White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Friday it’s easy to “play back seat” and question President Joe Biden’s decisions in Afghanistan amid a flurry of bipartisan criticism following Thursday’s deadly attack in Kabul.
New York Times White House correspondent Michael Shear asked Psaki to respond to criticism from Democratic representatives over the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
“It is easy to throw stones or be a critic from the outside. It is harder to be in the arena and make difficult decisions,” Psaki said. “The decisions that a commander in chief have to make include among difficult options. These were the options: you send tens of thousands of more troops in Afghanistan to potentially lose their lives, that’s an option. Some support that, that is their prerogative. You pull out and you don’t put anyone at risk, you don’t put troops at risk and you don’t evacuate more than 105,000 people, that is another option.”
“The option that he has chosen in coordination and based on recommendations with his military commanders and advisors on the ground is to implement an evacuation that has saved lives potentially of more than 105,000 people certainly at risk of the men and women serving in the military, as we saw by the events of yesterday. That’s the choice he made,” she continued.
When pressed further about what other choices could have been available, such as evacuating US personnel back in May, Psaki acknowledged there are more than two options but each option has a consequence. (RELATED: ‘Biden Turned His Back On Him’: Father Of Fallen Marine Blames Military Leadership President For Son’s Death)
“It is easy to play backseat, let’s look at what could have happened three, four months ago . I think we’ve been clear on a couple of things, I will just say. No one anticipated, including on the outside, that the Afghan government would have fallen at the pace they fell,” Psaki said. “We didn’t anticipate the Afghan national security forces would have folded as they did. We didn’t anticipate that.”
“As a result of that all happening, we saw a chaotic situation just two weeks ago, so you can always, my point in response to the question, there are consequences to difficult choices and decisions. That is what faces you as commander-in-chief and that was the larger point I was trying to make.”
At least thirteen U.S. service members were killed in the deadly Kabul terrorist attack Thursday, while several others were injured. The attack came just weeks after the U.S. began withdrawing from the area, which is now overrun by the Taliban.
Hundreds of Afghans and Americans have been trying to board planes to flee the area over the last several weeks. The Biden Administration has faced heavy criticism for the execution of the withdrawal as concerns over whether the administration will be able to rescue all those who want to leave before an Aug. 31 deadline.