President Joe Biden said in a national address Monday that he “stands squarely behind (his) decision” to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan. The Taliban took the nation’s capital, Kabul, Sunday.
“After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces. That’s why we’re still there,” Pres. Biden said.
U.S. withdrawal began May 1, and the country is working on flying its last citizens out of Afghanistan as well as Afghans eligible for special immigrant visas.
“We have made it clear to the Taliban. If they attack our personnel or disrupt our operation, the U.S. presence will be swift, and the response will be swift and forceful,” Pres. Biden said. “We defend our people with devastating force if necessary.”
Pres. Biden compared fighting the Taliban with fighting ISIS.
“We conduct effective counterterrorism missions against terrorist groups in multiple countries where we don’t have permanent military presence. If necessary, we’ll do the same in Afghanistan,” he said.
Armed forces have been training and equipping the Afghan military over the past 20 years, spending over “a trillion dollars.”
“We gave them every chance to determine their own future. What we could not provide them was the will to fight for that future,” he said, later adding, “It is wrong to order American troops to step up when Afghanistan’s armed forces would not.”
He acknowledged the gruesome images circulating through social media.
“I also want to acknowledge how painful this is to so many of us. The scenes that are seen in Afghanistan, they’re gut wrenching, particularly for our veterans, our diplomats, humanitarian workers, for anyone who has spent time on the ground working to support the Afghan people, or those who have lost loved ones in Afghanistan.”