US President Joe Biden, facing strong criticism within the US and abroad for his administration's handling of Afghan policy which facilitated the Taliban's rapid takeover of the country, made a televised statement on Monday in which he resolutely stood by his decision, although acknowledging he would be criticized for it.
“I stand squarely behind my decision,” Biden said, adding that after 20 years he learned there is no "good way to withdraw" from Afghanistan.
Biden stated that the US's mission was not "nation-building" and that it had already achieved its objectives of killing Osama Bin Laden--mastermind of the 9/11 attacks--and preventing Afghanistan from becoming a future safe haven for terrorists.
"I will not repeat the mistakes we have made in the past, of doubling down on a conflict that is not in the national interests of the United States. Those are mistakes that we cannot continue to repeat when we have significant interests around the world we cannot afford to ignore," said Biden.
Biden indicated that the negotiations would not have borne fruit if extended indefinitely while still US soldiers would have been committed to fighting.
"The political leaders of Afghanistan were unable to come together for the good of their people... while the chips were done. They would never have done so when US forces were in the country" fighting for them, he said.
"It is wrong to order American troops to step up when Afghanistan's own armed forces would not," he said.
Biden acknowledged the slow pace of evacuations from Afghanistan earlier this summer. "Some of the Afghans did not want to leave earlier... It was also in part because the Afghan government discouraged us from organizing a mass exodus, to avoid triggering a crisis of confidence."