In his first address since Taliban took control of Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden said he stands by the decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan. Here are the key points from his speech.
Over the past couple of days, the world watched in horror as the Taliban took control of Afghanistan and the nation’s Ashraf Ghani-led government collapsed. The events of this week come after US forces, that have been stationed in Afghanistan for twenty years now, began withdrawing earlier this year.
On Monday, US President Joe Biden made his first speech since the Taliban took control of Afghanistan. Among other things, he stated that he stands by his decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan during the 15-minute-long speech. He said, “I am the President of the USA and the buck stops with me.”
I STAND SQUARELY BEHIND MY DECISION: JOE BIDEN
In the face of criticism from across the globe on the USA’s handling of the situation in Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden said he stands by his decision to withdraw American troops from the war-torn country after twenty years.
Joe Biden said he had to choose between sticking to a previously negotiated agreement to withdraw US troops this year or sending thousands more service members back into Afghanistan to fight a “third decade” of war.
He said he had inherited the deal struck by former president Donald Trump with the Taliban, according to which there was no ceasefire or agreement protecting the US forces in Afghanistan post May 1.
Biden said he’d rather take the current criticism than pass the issue on to a fifth US president. He said it’s time to end USA’s longest war after twenty years and that this was the right decision for his nation.
“TRUTH IS, IT UNFOLDED VERY QUICKLY”
During his speech, Joe Biden admitted, “I always promised Americans that I’ll be straight with them. The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we anticipated, even though we planned for every contingency.”
He acknowledged the “gut-wrenching” images that were coming out of Afghanistan and said that the misery was “deeply personal”.
However, he added, “After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces. Any more years in Afghanistan would not have made any difference. US troops were bearing the brunt for them [Afghans].”
‘US FORCES SHOULDN’T DIE IN WAR AFGHANS NOT WILLING TO FIGHT’
Suggesting reasons for the rapid Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, Joe Biden said, “Afghan political leaders gave up and fled the nation. The military collapsed, in some places without trying to fight.”
“We spent over a trillion dollars. We gave the Afghans every chance. But we couldn’t provide them the will to fight for their future,” Joe Biden said.
The US President claimed that the decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan was justified as the “American forces should not have to die in a war that Afghan troops were not willing to fight themselves.”
“How many more generations of American sons and daughters should lose their lives in an indefinite war?” Joe Biden asked.
‘GHANI FAILED TO PREPARE AFGHANISTAN FOR CIVIL WAR’
US President Joe Biden said that Afghanistan’s former president Ashraf Ghani had failed to prepare the nation for civil war.
“When I met Ghani in June and spoke to him over the phone in July, we had a very clear conversation. We spoke about preparing Afghanistan for a civil war after the US military pulls out. We discussed the need to clean up corruption in the government so it can function for the people and the need for Afghan leaders to unite politically. They failed to do all of this,” Joe Biden said.
He added that he had advised Ashraf Ghani to seek a political settlement with the Taliban but they had failed to do that as well.
‘WON’T REPEAT PAST MISTAKES’
In his address on Monday, US President Joe Biden said the US will not repeat mistakes made in the past.
“We will not repeat the mistake of staying and fighting indefinitely in a conflict that’s not in our national interest, of doubling down on a civil war in a foreign country, of attempting to remake a country through endless military deployment of US forces,” Joe Biden said.
Further, he added, “Our true competitors China and Russia would want nothing more than for us to continue to funnel billions of dollars and resources indefinitely into Afghanistan.” The US, he maintained, was making the right decision by withdrawing its troops.
‘OUR FOCUS WAS NEVER NATION-BUILDING’
US President Joe Biden said America’s focus was never nation-building or establishing democracy in Afghanistan. It was to prevent another terror attack on US soil.
“It has always been our decision to get those who had attacked us and we did it. We got Osama,” said the US President.
He said that the USA must now focus on “today’s threats, not yesterday’s”. He said terrorism exists way beyond Afghanistan and these new threats require the USA’s attention and resources.
‘WILL CONTINUE TO SUPPORT AFGHANS’
President Joe Biden said the US will, however, continue to support the Afghan people with its diplomacy, international influence and humanitarian aid.
“We are focused on what is now possible in Afghanistan. We will continue to support the people. We’ll lead with our diplomacy, international influence and humanitarian aid. We’ll push for regional diplomacy to prevent violence and instability and we’ll continue to speak out for basic rights of the Afghan people,” Joe Biden said.
Joe Biden said the USA’s current action steps in Afghanistan include deployment of 6,000 US troops to assist in the departure of thousands of citizens of the USA and allied countries from the war-torn region. Additionally, US security forces will try to evacuate vulnerable Afghan citizens to safety outside of their own nation.
‘AFGHAN GOVT DISCOURAGED US FROM EVACUATING EARLIER’
On why the US did not start carrying out evacuations earlier, US President Joe Biden said the Afghan government had discouraged them from doing so.
“I know there are concerns on why we did not begin to evacuate Afghan civilians sooner. Part of the answer, is some of the Afghans did not want to leave, still hopeful for their country,” Joe Biden said.
He went on to say, “And part of it is because the Afghan government and its supporters discouraged us from organising a mass exodus to avoid triggering, as they said, a crisis of confidence.”
‘CLOSELY MONITORING SITUATION’
US President Joe Biden said, “My national security team and I have been closely monitoring the situation on the ground in Afghanistan and moving quickly to execute the plans we had put in place to respond to every constituency and contingency, including the rapid collapse we are seeing now.”
‘WILL RESPOND WITH DEVASTATING FORCE IF US PERSONNEL ATTACKED’
Reiterating his support for the withdrawal of troops, Joe Biden said that if the Taliban attack US personnel, the US will respond with ‘devastating force’ if necessary. He also said that the response would be swift and decisive.
In a stern warning to the Taliban, Joe Biden said, “If they attack our personnel or disrupt our operation, the US response will be swift and forceful. We will defend our people with devastating force if necessary.”