President Joe Biden admitted on Monday in a live address to the nation that the collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban retaking control happened more quickly than the US government had anticipated, leading to the ongoing crisis playing out in front of the world.
Biden refused to back away from his decision to end the American military’s combat mission in the nation, where the US had fought the nation’s longest war. Biden put the blame on Afghanistan’s political leaders and that nation’s armed forces for not standing up to the Taliban’s lightning-quick offensive that put them back in control after two decades of war.
“I stand squarely behind my decision. After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces. That’s why we’re still there, we were clear-eyed about the risks, we planned for every contingency. But I always promised the American people I would be straight with you,” President Biden said. “The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.”
President Biden took responsibility for how the events were unfolding, though he has no control over them. “I am the President of the United States of America. The buck stops with me,” he said.
We went to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago with clear goals: get those who attacked us on September 11, 2001—and make sure al Qaeda could not use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack us again.
We did that—a decade ago.
Our mission was never supposed to be nation building.
— President Biden (@POTUS) August 16, 2021
In a written statement over the weekend, the President staunchly defended his decision to leave Afghanistan, saying he would not pass the 20-year conflict on to another president. He also lay part of the blame for the current situation on his predecessor, Donald Trump, who brokered a deal with the Taliban to withdraw American troops by May 1, 2021.
After many years of lies and spin, it was nice to hear a US President tell the truth and be straight forward with the American people. The buck does stop with President Biden and he had to make a choice regardless of how hard. We couldn’t stay in Afghanistan for 50 more years.
— Ricky Davila (@TheRickyDavila) August 16, 2021
Watch President Biden’s full remarks, below.