President Joe Biden is standing behind his decision to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan after the Taliban seized control of the country’s capital on Sunday (Aug. 15).
“Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country; the Afghan military collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight,” the president said during a press conference on Monday (Aug. 16). “If anything, the developments of the past week reinforce that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision.”
“I stand squarely behind my decision,” Biden added. “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.”
For the past two decades, the U.S. has tried to restructure the Afghan government and its military. However, after President Ashraf Ghani’s departed from the country on Sunday, the Taliban took over.
Within hours of their takeover, turmoil erupted at Kabul’s International Airport as Afghans rushed to flee the country. Hundreds of Afghans tried to board a U.S. Air Force plane as it attempted to leave. A graphic video showed several people fall to their death as the aircraft traveled into the sky.
On Monday, President Biden stated that the Taliban’s swift advance took place faster than they expected. “The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated,” he said, emphasizing that his administration was equipped for all scenarios, but the Afghan military and government were against defending their own land. “American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” the president added.
Biden stated that he will continue to help evacuate allies and vulnerable Afghans from the country. The U.S. will also take over air traffic control to ensure that military and civilian flights could proceed.