WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden defended his decision of a quick withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan even as Taliban fighters make significant gains in northern Afghanistan in recent days.
Biden said the United States mission in Afghanistan will conclude on August 31, over a week earlier than he originally announced.
“Nearly 20 years of experience has shown us — and the current security situation only confirms — that just one more year of fighting in Afghanistan is not a solution, but a recipe for being there indefinitely,” he said. “It’s up to the Afghans to make the decision about the future of their country.”
Biden committed to evacuate thousands of Afghan translators and their families who worked alongside the United State, saying they have a home in the United States and the process to get special immigrant visas had been “dramatically accelerated”.
The President said the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan would not alter the course of the country, and repeatedly stressed that it was up to the Afghan government to determine its own path forward for their future.
“We did not go to Afghanistan to nation build,” Biden said. “It’s the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country.”
Biden said the withdrawal process is happening in a “secure and orderly way” on the advise from his military commanders. However, the U.S. has faced accusations from the Afghan troops that they were taken by surprise by the Americans leaving their posts.
The President has faced heavy criticism from Republicans on Capitol Hill after fighting broke out between the Taliban and Afghan security forces. When asked by reporters if he trusted the Taliban, Biden gave a strong response.
“Is that a serious question?,” he said. “It’s a silly question. Do I trust the Taliban? No. But I trust the capacity of the Afghan military, who is better trained, better equipped and more competent in terms of conducting war.”
Biden said back in April that he is the fourth president to preside over the war and he was not going to pass the issue off to whomever is in office next. Thursday saw him take that a step further, speaking to his critics, asking if they would send their own families to war.
“I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan with no reasonable expectation to achieve a different outcome,” Biden said. “The United States cannot afford to remain tethered to policies created in response to a world as it was 20 years ago.”