US President Joe Biden has conceded that the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan happened “more quickly” than anticipated, but insisted that he remained “squarely behind” his decision to withdraw American troops from the war-torn country, amidst “gut-wrenching” images emerging out of Kabul.
In his address to the nation from the White House following the dramatic fall of the Afghan national government to the Taliban, a defiant Biden rejected blame for messy pull out amid chaotic scenes of Afghans clinging to US military planes in Kabul in a desperate bid to flee their home country.
He described the images coming out of Afghanistan as “gut-wrenching” but said: “I've learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces. I stand squarely behind my decision...We were clear-eyed about the risks. We planned for every contingency. But I always promised the American people that I will be straight with you,” Biden said.
He blamed the US-backed Afghan government and military for allowing the Taliban to take over. “The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated. So, what happened? Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country,” he said, a day after embattled Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
Biden said that American troops cannot be “dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves”. “The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending US military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision,” said the US president, who briefly interrupted his summer holiday and returned to Washington.
Biden asserted that he will not “repeat the mistakes” the US has made in the past, the mistake of staying and fighting indefinitely in a conflict that is not in the national interest of America, of doubling down on a civil war in a foreign country, of attempting to remake a country through the endless military deployments of US forces.