My predecessor, the former President, signed an agreement with the Taliban to remove US troops May 1, just months after I was inaugurated. It included no requirement that the Taliban work out a cooperative government arrangement with the Afghan government. — President Joe Biden
My predecessor, the former President, signed an agreement with the Taliban to remove US troops May 1, just months after I was inaugurated. It included no requirement that the Taliban work out a cooperative government arrangement with the Afghan government. — President Joe Biden
Biden gives a defiant defense of the withdrawal from Afghanistan: 'I was not extending a forever exit'
"My fellow Americans, the war in Afghanistan is now over," Biden said at the White House, marking a symbolic moment he said was long overdue. "I'm the fourth president who has faced the issue of whether and when to end this war. When I was running for president, I made a commitment to the American people that I would end this war. Today I've honored that commitment."

Biden was defending a decision that has drawn scrutiny for its chaotic execution that undercut his promise to restore competence to government. His speech, delivered in an impassioned tone that revealed flashes of anger toward his critics, offered no apology for how the war ended.

Instead, Biden said the real choice in Afghanistan was "between leaving and escalating," framing his call to withdraw troops as the only option aside from surging more forces to the country. He suggested that the humbling end to the war, with the Taliban back in control after trillions of dollars and thousands of lives were spent ousting them, was the fault of decisions made long ago.

"I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit," he said, casting aside arguments that leaving some troops in the country was a feasible way to keep the Taliban at bay.

Eager to move on, Biden hopes his speech amounts to something of the last word after a two-and-a-half week scramble to leave the country. Questions linger over potentially hundreds of Americans who were not evacuated and many more Afghan allies who want to leave.

While Biden pledged the mission to help those people leave would continue, he also made clear that America's interest in Afghanistan was over. So, too, did he explain that the era of invading countries with an aim toward installing American values was no longer viable.

Biden argued that the US "no longer had a clear purpose in an open-ended mission in Afghanistan" and that the US' withdrawal signaled "ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries."

The US withdrawal was rocked by the Taliban's unexpectedly swift takeover of Afghanistan's capital.

... Biden paid tribute to the service members who were deployed to handle the withdrawal, including the 13 who died in the terrorist strike and praised their comrades who finished the mission.

"For weeks they risked their lives to get American citizens, Afghans who helped us, citizens of our allies and partners and others on board planes and out of the country. And they did it facing the crush of enormous crowds seeking to leave the country," Biden said.

The President, who faces a political reckoning for the US' handling of the withdrawal, said in a statement Monday that "it was the unanimous recommendation of the Joint Chiefs and of all of our commanders on the ground to end our airlift mission as planned." He's also argued that he thought chaos in the country was inevitable when US troops departed.

Biden asserted during his speech on Tuesday that even if evacuations had started sooner, "there still would have been a rush to the airport, a breakdown in confidence and control in the government."

"And it still would have been a very difficult and dangerous mission. The bottom line is there is no evacuation from the end of a war that you can run without the kind of complexities, challenges, threats we face. None," he added.

The President said he takes responsibility for the decision to withdraw at the end of August, but he also blamed his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, for signing on to an earlier agreement with the Taliban for a US withdrawal on May 1.

"My predecessor, the former President, signed an agreement with the Taliban to remove US troops May 1, just months after I was inaugurated. It included no requirement that the Taliban work out a cooperative government arrangement with the Afghan government," Biden said.

"But it did authorize the release of 5,000 prisoners last year, including some of the Taliban's top war commanders, among those that just took control of Afghanistan. By the time I came into office, the Taliban was in its strongest military position since 2001."


... The President also acknowledged the new challenges include those presented by China and Russia, saying there's nothing the two nations "would rather have and want more in this competition than for the United States to be bogged down another decade in Afghanistan."
Read the full article: https://www.cnn.com/2021/08/31/politics/biden-afghanistan-withdrawal-speech/index.html