U.S. President Joe Biden on Monday defended his decision to pull out American security forces from Afghanistan, saying he stands “squarely behind” his decision while also acknowledging the “gut-wrenching” images emerging from Afghanistan following the takeover of the war-torn country by the Taliban.
Biden said he had two options before him – to stick to a troop withdrawal agreement that had been negotiated by the previous Trump administration with the Taliban or to order more American troops to continue to fight a “third decade” of war in Afghanistan.
Biden has been facing criticism in the manner in which the U.S. had handled the situation in Afghanistan. Further, defending his decision, Biden said he decide to choose the first option so that no previous mistakes were repeated.
“I stand squarely behind my decision,” Biden told the nation in a televised address from the White House East Room. “After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces.”
But there are many who do not agree with Biden’s reasoning and pointed out the result of his decision – the fall of Afghanistan and the ensuing chaos as the Taliban captured Kabul and Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country.
Biden, however, said he was ready to take on the criticism instead of passing on the buck to the next U.S. president. His decision to pull out American troop[s] from Afghanistan, he said, was “the right one for America” as retaining a military presence in the country was not in the national security interest of the U.S.
While acknowledging the heart-wrenching nature of the pictures emerging out of Afghanistan – especially from the Kabul airport, Biden was not ready to admit any fault on the part of the U.S. in the manner in which the withdrawal was executed. He, however, admitted that the speed of the incidents – the Taliban taking over entire Afghanistan, happened “more quickly than we had anticipated.”
Biden also reiterated his administration’s stand to continue to support the Afghan people, engage in regional diplomacy and raise his voice for the rights of Afghans.
The Republicans have been criticizing Biden as commander in chief and claimed he had failed in this role. Biden, however, said that the fast pace at which the Afghan government collapsed only vindicated his decision, and noted how the Afghan army had laid down arms before the Taliban without a fight.
Biden said: “American troops cannot and should not be fighting the war, and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.”
He reiterated that while he was “deeply saddened” by the situation, he did not regret the decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan.
The Afghan war started in the presidency of George Bush Junior in 2001 and Biden is the fourth U.S. president facing the Afghanistan challenge. He insisted that he would not pass on the burden to the next president.
Many also are questioning the comments made by Biden on July 8 when he said that the proposition of the Taliban “owning the whole country is highly unlikely.” And on Tuesday last week, Biden had ordered thousands of American troops into the region to ensure safe evacuation.