Biden 'Makes No Apologies' for Afghanistan Withdrawal, Regrets Taliban Rule, ISIS-K Attack

President Joe Biden said he makes "no apologies" for his August 2021 withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. However, he did express regret for changes that have happened in the country under the Taliban's rule, as well as an ISIS-K terrorist attack that killed U.S. troops during the withdrawal.

"There is no way to get out of Afghanistan after 20 years easily. Not possible, no matter when you did it. I make no apologies for what I did," Biden said.

Amid the withdrawal, the Biden administration scrambled to evacuate troops and Afghan allies who aided the U.S. during its occupation. The U.S. evacuated somewhere between 13,000 to 18,000 people per day to meet the Aug. 31, 2021, withdrawal deadline.

Joe Biden Afghanistan no regrets conference
President Joe Biden defended the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, but also shared some regrets during his press conference. Above, Biden delivers his opening statement in the East Room of the White House on Jan. 19, 2022. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

During the press conference, Biden expressed concern for the U.S. military service members who were killed and injured by an Aug. 26 ISIS-K terrorist attack at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul.

However, Biden said that if the U.S. had stayed in the country, it would've been asked to station between 20,000 and 50,000 troops at the cost of nearly $1 billion a week.

"Now, do I feel badly [about] what's happening as a consequence of the incompetence of the Taliban? Yes, I do," Biden continued. He said he also feels bad "about a whole range of things around the world that we can't solve."

Since regaining power, Taliban forces have reportedly detained and beaten journalists, policed "un-Islamic" behavior and reinstated social prohibitions on women, the Council on Foreign Relations reported. Afghanistan risks losing foreign aid over the Taliban's rule. The loss could exacerbate a humanitarian crisis as the country also struggles with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Biden said that nobody thought U.S. involvement would ever unite Afghanistan. "It's been the graveyard of empires for a solid reason: It is not susceptible to unity," he said.

The withdrawal was negotiated in 2020 by former President Donald Trump. However, Biden was criticized for its execution, especially amid the Taliban rapidly retaking the country and its government as the U.S. departed.

Biden's unapologetic stance flies in the face of conservative critics who have blamed him for rushed evacuations and the ISIS-K attack.

Trump has repeatedly criticized Biden for the withdrawal. Trump has said that it should have been "conditions-based." He also said the Biden administration offered "zero resistance" to the Taliban after Biden became president. He also criticized Biden for leaving U.S. military equipment in the region, risking its falling into enemy control.

On Aug. 14, 2021, Biden criticized Trump's deal, saying that it "left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001."

"I faced a choice—follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies' forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country's civil conflict," Biden said.

On Aug. 16, Trump's personal website deleted an April 18, 2021, statement from Trump declaring, "Getting out of Afghanistan is a wonderful and positive thing to do."

Throughout the withdrawal, legislators blasted Biden for not anticipating the Taliban's quick return to power, for cooperating with the Taliban and for not doing enough to ensure everyone's safe and timely evacuation.

However, Trump's former national security adviser John Bolton said on Aug. 18, "While Biden bears responsibly for bungling the implementation, I have no confidence Trump would have executed it any more competently."

On Aug. 21, Biden pledged up to $500 million from the United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund to assist refugees fleeing from Afghanistan.