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Joe Biden Blames Afghanistan Leaders & Military For Taliban's Victory; Washes US Hands Off

US President Joe Biden broke his silence on the events in Afghanistan which has fallen into Taliban hands amid the US withdrawal from the country after 20 years

Image: White House Youtube screenshot

United States President Joe Biden broke his silence on the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban on August 17 shortly after midnight IST. The head of state stood by his decision in ending the US's longest military engagement by completing its withdrawal from Afghanistan where it has been embroiled since 2001. 'I am President of the US and the buck stops with me,' Biden said, adding that he was saddened by the facts the world now faces, but that the decision was the correct one for America.

Joe Biden started his address by admitting that he has been closely monitoring the 'rapidly falling situation of Afghanistan' with his national security advisory. This came after he cut short a vacation to return to the White House to deliver this address.

'US entered Afghanistan to prevent al-Qaeda and not nation-building': Joe Biden

Defending the precipitous move by the US, Joe Biden asserted the American troops had entered Afghanistan in 2001 as a retaliation to al-Qaeda's 9/11 attacks. The objective of deploying forces in the foreign land was to prevent further terror attacks orchestrated by al-Qaeda from Afghanistan and not aid Afghanistan in nation-building. 

Asserting that the US had not entered Afghanistan for counter-terrorism or reforming the country, Biden said, 'The US entered with clear goals to make sure al-Qaeda did not use Afghanistan. We did not enter Afghanistan with an aim of nation-building and of curbing insurgency.'

Stressing that the US-led troops had been facing the 'ugly brunt' of violence-stricken Afghanistan, Biden stated that he does not want to be the fifth President of the United States to let 'more American soldiers sacrifice lives'. Biden also said that if it was required the US is prepared to act 'quickly, swiftly and decisively to counter-terrorism'.

Reiterating his take on the accord signed by his predecessor Donald Trump wherein the deadline for troops' withdrawal was May 1, 2021, Biden stated that he was left to either follow through with the pact or deploy 'thousands of soldiers fighting the Taliban in middle of spring fighting season'. He also clarified that by the time he held the office in January 2021, troops had been drawn down from 15,500 to 2,500 already.

"Cannot repeat mistakes or cannot ignore"

Furthermore, Biden stated there would exist no protection to forces and no status quo once the pact was signed. US troops would not only lose jurisdiction but protection too, he implied. "I could either send thousands of US forces to the third decade of conflict or retrieve", he added. Stating that the US could not anticipate the rapid fall of the government, he said there is 'never a good time to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan."

"We planned but I will be straight with you, this fall did happen more quickly than we anticipated", he said. 

Admitting that the US would be criticised by many, he said that he cannot repeat mistakes or cannot ignore issues like other leaders and it is 'wrong to ask US forces to step up when Afghanistan did not'. Addressing the sudden departure of Ashraf Ghani from Afghanistan, the US President said, "Afghanistan's President fled the country. There is no chance that we send the US for one year or five years or 12 more years. Americans cannot and should not deserve to die."

Stating that the US spent trillions of dollars in equipping the Afghan forces, Biden said the US faced the brunt when Afghan government and the Taliban failed to negotiate 'better for their country'.

"I am clear of my answer": Joe Biden

Mentioning a previous meeting with the ousted leader of Afghanistan, Biden stated, "Ashraf Ghani insisted the Afghan forces will fight, but they did not." He stated that he had had 'frank conversations with Ghani on how Afghanistan should be prepared to fight.'

Biden also stressed the need for Afghanistan to engage in a political settlement. While admitting that the images of Afghanistan now are 'gut-wrenching' Biden said, "I am clear of my answer. I am not going to conflict with the interests of the US."

"We will continue to speak out for basic rights of women and people of Afghanistan, as we do for the rest of the world," he added. 

Reiterating US' goals to 'degrade terror in Afghanistan and kill Osama' Biden stated that the Taliban has been warned that 'we will defend our people with devastating force if necessary' if the ongoing evacuation was in any way imperiled.

"I know I will be criticised for my decision but I am ready to take it all because this is the right thing to do. I committed to not ask them to risk their lives somewhere it should have ended long ago," Joe Biden said before concluding, oddly for an American President, without taking any questions.


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