Pentagon’s Kirby: ‘Americans Stranded in Countries All the Time’

Craig Bannister | August 31, 2021 | 1:52pm EDT
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Pentagon Press Sec. John Kirby

Asked how the use of diplomacy will rescue those left stranded in Afghanistan after Pres. Joe Biden’s withdrawal of U.S. forces, Pentagon Press Sec. John Kirby replied Americans get stranded in other countries happens “all the time.”

“How does diplomacy get those people out of the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan?” “Morning Joe” Co-host Willie Geist asked Kirby.

“We have Americans stranded in countries all the time,” Kirby replied. And, if the Biden Administration chooses to hold the Taliban to account, it will do so using “leverage tools,” not military action, Kirby explained:

“It's not completely unlike the way we do it elsewhere around the world. We have Americans that get stranded in countries all the time and we do everything we can to try to facilitate safe passage and we have made it clear what our expectations are to the Taliban and if the Taliban want to govern, and they say they do, and they want to not retaliate when they say they do, we're going to hold them to their deeds, not just words, so there are leverage tools we have available to us to hold them to account. But that's the effort. It's going to be a whole of government effort, but I don't see a military role at this time.”

Last week, however, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told Fox News Channel’s Peter Doocy that “It's irresponsible to say Americans are stranded. They are not.”

Asked by Geist about Pres. Biden’s previous claim that U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan until every last American was evacuated, Kirby said that the administration had decided that it was too dangerous to remain in the country:

MSNBC: “So President Biden, as you know, said in his interview with ABC news a couple of weeks ago that America would stay until every last American was out of the country. Was there any consideration of extending the deadline until you got the Americans out, until you got some of those wartime partners out? 

Kirby: “You heard the president himself say he was willing to have the Pentagon come up with contingency plans in case we needed to go past the 31st but you also saw in the last couple of days just how dangerous and perilous the environment was getting. not just for the troops at the airport. but for local citizens near and around the airport.

“There was a very credible, specific increasing threat stream by ISIS that was making the entire operation more perilous and we had to make decisions in the last couple of days to make sure we could get everybody out as safely as possible and not imperil civilians any more than they already were.”

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