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National security adviser Jake Sullivan said on Sunday that President Biden hasn't ruled sending more troops to the airport in Kabul, but "at the moment, we believe we have sufficient forces on the ground.”

The big picture: The president's senior national security team made the rounds on the Sunday political talk shows to explain — and defend — the Biden administration's handling of the ongoing turbulence in Afghanistan.

  • "At the moment, we believe we have sufficient forces on the ground, but every single day the president asks his military commanders ... whether they need additional resources, additional troops. So far, the answer has been 'no,' but he will ask again today," Sullivan said on NBC's "Meet the Press."
  • When asked whether he would advise the president to extend the deadline if American and Afghan allies aren't safely out of the country by Aug. 31, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said: "As we approach that deadline, we'll make a recommendation to the president."
  • "In terms of what we'll be able to accomplish going forward, we can't place a specific figure on exactly what we'll be able to do. But I'll just tell you that we're going to try to exceed expectations and do as much as we can," Austin told host Martha Raddatz on ABC's "This Week."

On terrorism: When asked about reports surrounding ISIS concerns at the Kabul airport, Sullivan said on CNN's "State of the Union" that the threat "is real, acute and persistent."

  • The president and his national security advisers met on Saturday and "discussed the security situation in Afghanistan and counterterrorism operations, including ISIS-K," a White House official said.
  • “Since 9/11, our capacity to deal with terrorism effectively in places where we don't have boots on the ground has grown immensely,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Sunday on "Face the Nation."
  • “And we now are able to do things that we couldn't do 20 years ago. If this threat reemerges in Afghanistan, we'll deal with it,” he added.
  • The situation in Afghanistan “has created a global crisis, quite frankly,” former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker said on "Face the Nation." He added: “It has emboldened violent Islamic radicals. I think we're all going to see the fallout of that, certainly in Pakistan.”

On missed opportunities: Austin said on "This Week" that "nobody predicted that, you know, the government would fall in 11 days."

  • "What you do is you adjust, and we've adjusted," Sullivan said on "Meet the Press."
  • When asked why the U.S. left Bagram before evacuating civilians, Sullivan said: “Bagram is an immense facility that would be difficult to secure over time and put our troops at risk.”
  • He added that it did not make logistical sense because Bagram is located outside of Kabul.

On the Taliban and Americans in Kabul: Austin confirmed on "This Week" that Americans have had “tough encounters” with the Taliban in trying to get through to the airport.

  • On Friday, Biden said his administration has been in "constant contact" with the Taliban to "ensure that civilians have safe passage to the airport."
  • “We’ve made it clear to the Taliban that any attack, any attack on our forces or disruption of our operations at the airport will be met with swift and forceful response."
  • Blinken said on "Face the Nation" that U.S. contact with Taliban has been “very important to making sure that we can actually advance our own interests in getting people out safely and effectively as possible." He added: “They are in control of Kabul. That is the reality.”

Editor's note: This story has been updated throughout.

Go deeper

Oct 26, 2021 - World

U.S. presses Gulf countries to help resolve Sudan coup crisis

Jake Sullivan briefs the press. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty

The Biden administration has asked its partners in the Gulf and elsewhere to press the Sudanese generals who carried out a coup on Monday to release captives including Prime Minister Abdallah Hamdok and to reinstate the civilian government, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said in a press briefing on Tuesday.

Why it matters: The U.S. has limited influence over coup leader Gen. Abdul Fattah al-Burhan and other military leaders, many of whom have close ties to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

17 hours ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.

Felix Salmon, author of Capital
37 mins ago - Economy & Business

Why it's so hard to tax wealth

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The wealth tax that wasn't a wealth tax isn't even a tax, now. The Democrats had a meticulously constructed 107-page proposal to pay for a large chunk of their spending plans with a tax on billionaires, but it died ignobly on Wednesday, the same day it was unveiled.

Why it matters: The dream of a wealth tax will never die as it so neatly generates revenue by reducing inequality. But there are three main reasons why that dream is likely to remain just a dream for the foreseeable future.