‘I stand squarely behind my choice’: Biden defends Afghanistan pullout

WASHINGTON (REUTERS/AFP) – US President Joe Biden on Monday (Aug 16)  mentioned he “stood squarely behind” his choice to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan and rejected broad criticism of the chaotic withdrawal that’s posing a disaster for him.

“I’m president of america of America and the buck stops with me,” Mr Biden mentioned in a much-awaited televised handle from the White Home, after a number of days of silence on the momentous developments. 

Mr Biden mentioned the mission of the US was by no means purported to be nation constructing as he blamed the Taleban’s takeover of Afghanistan on Afghan political leaders who fled the nation and the unwillingness of the Afghan military to battle the militant group.

As scenes of mayhem unfolded within the Afghan capital, Mr Biden mentioned he was “deeply saddened” by the flip of occasions – and promised to “converse out” on the rights of ladies now dealing with a return to Taleban rule. 

However he was steadfast in insisting he didn’t remorse pulling out America’s troops – regardless of a torrent of criticism of the chaotic finish to twenty years of US-led army intervention.

“I stand squarely behind my choice,” Mr Biden mentioned. “After 20 years I’ve realized the arduous means that there was by no means a very good time to withdraw US forces. That’s why we’re nonetheless there.”

“The reality is: This did unfold extra rapidly than we anticipated. So what’s occurred? Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the nation. The Afghan army gave up, typically with out attempting to battle,” Mr Biden mentioned.

The President additionally mentioned his choice is a results of the dedication he made to American troops that he was not going to ask them to proceed to threat their lives for a battle that ought to have ended way back. 

“Our leaders did that in Vietnam after I obtained right here as (a) younger man. I cannot do it in Afghanistan,” he mentioned. “I do know my choice shall be criticised however I’d reasonably take all that criticism than cross this choice on to a different president.”

And the US President issued a stark warning to the Taleban to not disrupt or threaten the evacuation of hundreds of American diplomats and Afghan translators on the Kabul airport. 

“We’ll defend our folks with devastating drive if crucial,” he mentioned.

Frustration grows

Frustration and anger at Mr Biden’s dealing with of evacuations from Afghanistan are mounting amongst administration officers, lawmakers of each events and advocacy teams.  

As US diplomats hunkered inside, hundreds of determined Afghans thronged Kabul airport, the place 5 folks had been killed on Monday, prompting the US army to briefly droop flights to clear the airfield.  

5 US officers, talking on situation of anonymity, instructed Reuters that, weeks earlier than the Washington-backed Afghan authorities collapsed, the US army needed an even bigger position in serving to to evacuate Afghans in danger as a result of they labored for the US.

The officers consider {that a} extra orderly withdrawal would have been seemingly.  “We might have achieved much more to assist. The administration waited too lengthy,” a army official mentioned.  

A member of Taleban forces inspects the realm outdoors Hamid Karzai Worldwide Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan on Aug 16, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

In response, a senior administration official cited feedback on Monday by Nationwide Safety Adviser Jake Sullivan, who mentioned Mr Biden’s workforce has been “engaged for months of intensive state of affairs planning and was prepared for this problem”.

Regardless of the federal government’s speedy collapse, Mr Sullivan mentioned the embassy was closed “safely and swiftly” and that, “we at the moment are laser-focused on getting folks out safely and swiftly”. 

Evacuees crowd the inside of a US Air Power C-17 Globemaster III transport plane, carrying some 640 Afghans to Qatar from Kabul on Aug 15, 2021. PHOTO: REUTERS

There have been additionally points with the intelligence, with one evaluation final week saying Kabul wouldn’t be remoted for the subsequent 30 days no less than.  

A supply conversant in the state of affairs mentioned the Biden administration was behind the curve as issues deteriorated in Afghanistan. “Each choice has come too late and in response to occasions that make the next choice out of date,” the supply mentioned.  

Native embassy workers who’ve been at dwelling for weeks had been left to make their very own technique to the airport, the supply mentioned, including that e-mails had been despatched to them on Sunday after sporadic gunfire to stay of their homes or another secure location. 

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