Over the last few days, pictures and videos have bubbled up on social media representing the current state of Afghanistan. As widely reported, the Taliban has regained control of the country nearly 20 years after U.S. forces pushed them out. The devastating results include deadly attempts, such as clinging to moving US military planes, by Afghanistan natives to flee the country. Nonetheless, on Monday afternoon, President Joe Biden defended his decision to continue withdrawing troops from war-torn country.
“I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces,” President Biden said. “That’s why we’re still there. We were clear-eyed about the risks. We planned for every contingency. But I always promised the American people I would be straight with you. The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.”
By this, President Biden is referring to the collapse of the Afghan government and armed forces. According to CNN, intelligence reports determined last month that it could take weeks or months after the US departure for the capital city Kabul to fall. However, the reports were proven wrong when the Taliban took the capital on Sunday.
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During his address, Biden placed part of the blame on Afghan leaders and their armed forces. The president shared that Afghan leaders did not take the suggestions given earlier this summer. The “frank conversations” reportedly centered on fighting the civil war after the US troops departed, eliminating government corruption, political unity and diplomacy with the Taliban to find a “political settlement.” However, Afghan officials reportedly refused.
“Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country,” Biden said. “The Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision.
President Biden also shared that they’ve warned the Taliban against attacking American personnel or disrupting operations. The military is currently focused on securing American personnel, allies and Afghans eligible for special immigration visas, before continuing to withdraw from the country.
“I cannot and will not ask our troops to fight on endlessly in another country’s civil war, taking casualties, suffering life-shattering injuries, leaving families broken by grief and loss,” Biden said. “This is not in our national security interest. It is not what the American people want. It is not what our troops who have sacrificed so much over the past two decades deserve.”
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