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Biden defends Afghanistan departure: ‘I was not going to extend this forever war’

Credit: Jessica Koscielniak, USA TODAY


Biden defends Afghanistan departure: ‘I was not going to extend this forever war’


President Joe Biden defended his decision to remove US troops from Afghanistan on Tuesday, justifying the messy departure from Kabul a day after the final American combat jets departed the nation, bringing the US’ longest war to a close almost 20 years after it began.

The president particularly responded to complaints that the US military had left some Americans in the nation — between 100 and 250, according to various official estimates — by emphasizing that he would not go beyond the August 31 deadline he had set.

From the White House, Biden said, “I was not going to extend this forever war. And I was not going to extend a forever exit.”

“My fellow Americans, the war in Afghanistan is now over. 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 replied to harsh criticism for adhering to the troop departure date of August 31.

“Leaving by Aug. 31 is not due to an arbitrary deadline,” Biden said. “It was designed to save American lives.”


Biden has faced difficult questions about how the US exited Afghanistan, which was a tumultuous process marked by violent outbursts, including a suicide bombing last week that killed 13 US military personnel and 169 Afghans.

The president claimed that the US military was prepared to cope with all of those events, despite admitting that the US was taken off guard by the Afghan army’s rapid collapse.

“This is the way the mission was designed. It was designed to operate under severe stress and attack, and that’s what it did,” Biden said.

Biden blasted Republicans — and some Democrats — who argue that the US would have been better off in Afghanistan with a less military presence. Prior to Thursday’s strike, the US military had not lost a combat casualty since February 2020, when the Trump administration reached an agreement with the Taliban to terminate the conflict by May of this year.

“I respectfully disagree,” Biden responded to critics who argue the evacuation might have happened sooner and in a more orderly manner.

“Everything had changed. My predecessor had made a deal with the Taliban,” he said. “The Taliban onslaught was coming.”

Biden stated that they began contacting Americans in Afghanistan about leaving in March and that 19 contacts were made.

While Biden stated that the effort to assist individuals fleeing the country will continue, he also stated that America’s interest in Afghanistan was ended. He also stated that the period of conquering nations with the goal of imposing American principles was no longer sustainable.

Biden said that 90 percent of Americans who wanted to leave Afghanistan did so, and that the majority of those who stayed have dual citizenship or strong ties in the nation.

“We completed one of the biggest airlifts in history with more than 120,000 people evacuated to safety,” Biden stated.

Biden spoke to the American people about his decision not to extend the US military presence in Afghanistan past the end of the month, a day after leaving Secretary of State Antony Blinken and US Central Command Commander Gen. Kenneth “Frank” McKenzie to speak in the hours after the final military plane left the country. The president initially met with his national security staff in the Situation Room on Tuesday morning for an Afghanistan briefing.

When asked about Biden’s anger at some criticism following the speech, White House press secretary Jen Psaki claimed the president had merely given his “forceful assessment.”

Biden honored the service members who were deployed to handle the withdrawal, including the 13 who were killed in the terrorist attack, and praised their comrades who completed 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.

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