President Biden said he stands “squarely behind” his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, speaking from the White House Monday as he drew bipartisan criticism over the swift collapse of the government and the ensuing chaos.
He acknowledged that the Taliban took control of the country more quickly than he expected and that the U.S. exit has been “far from perfect,” although he took little responsibility for that. He called the images of desperate Afghans at Kabul’s international airport trying to flee their country gut-wrenching.
While pledging to get Americans and U.S. allies out of the country safely, Mr. Biden cast much of the blame for the fall of the Afghan government on its American-trained military for failing to take up the fight with the Taliban.
“If anything, the developments in the past week reinforced that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision,” he said. “American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war, and dying in a war, that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.”
The president’s remarks and the chaotic U.S. exit from Afghanistan will become the closing chapters in America’s longest war, one that began 20 years ago after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, as a hunt to bring justice to those who committed those acts.
Mr. Biden has long said that Washington had accomplished its mission in the region by killing Osama bin Laden in 2011 and depriving al Qaeda of its sanctuary in Afghanistan, and had nothing to gain by prolonging its military deployments in the country.
Mr. Biden’s speech focused on his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan, but he mostly skirted criticism from members of both parties that his administration executed the exit in a sloppy and haphazard way. At least eight Afghans were killed during a chaotic scene at the Kabul airport Monday as locals tried to board jets and flee the country.
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