Biden stands behind Afghan withdrawal, despite ‘hard and messy’ final days.

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Biden Defends U.S. Withdrawal from Afghanistan

President Biden said helium stood “squarely behind” the determination to retreat U.S. forces from Afghanistan contempt a Taliban takeover of the country, and the illness of the Afghan authorities and military.

We went to Afghanistan astir 20 years agone with wide goals: Get those who attacked america connected Sept. 11, 2001, and marque definite Al Qaeda could not usage Afghanistan arsenic a basal from which to onslaught america again. We did that. We severely degraded Al Qaeda successful Afghanistan. We ne'er gave up the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and we got him. That was a decennary ago. Our ngo successful Afghanistan was ne'er expected to person been nation-building. When I came into office, I inherited a woody that President Trump negotiated with the Taliban. Under his agreement, U.S. forces would beryllium retired of Afghanistan by May 1, 2021. The prime I had to marque arsenic your president was either to travel done connected that statement oregon beryllium prepared to spell backmost to warring the Taliban successful the mediate of the outpouring warring season. It was lone a acold world of either pursuing done connected the statement to retreat our forces oregon escalating the conflict, and sending thousands much American troops backmost into combat successful Afghanistan, lurching into the 3rd decennary of conflict. I basal squarely down my decision. After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard mode that determination was ne'er a bully clip to retreat U.S. forces. This did unfold much rapidly than we had anticipated. So what’s happened? Afghanistan governmental leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan subject collapsed, sometimes without trying to fight. If anything, the developments of the past week reenforce that ending U.S. subject engagement successful Afghanistan present was the close decision. American troops cannot and should not beryllium warring successful a warfare and dying successful a warfare that Afghan forces are not consenting to combat for themselves.

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President Biden said helium stood “squarely behind” the determination to retreat U.S. forces from Afghanistan contempt a Taliban takeover of the country, and the illness of the Afghan authorities and military.CreditCredit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

Michael D. ShearDavid E. Sanger

  • Aug. 16, 2021Updated 8:43 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON — President Biden offered a defiant defence connected Monday of his determination to retreat troops from Afghanistan, blaming the swift illness of the Afghan authorities and chaotic scenes at the Kabul airport connected the refusal of the country’s subject to basal and combat successful the look of the Taliban advance.

Speaking to the American radical from the East Room aft returning concisely to the White House from Camp David, Mr. Biden said helium had nary regrets astir his determination to extremity the longest warfare successful United States history. But helium lamented that 2 decades of enactment failed to crook the Afghan subject into a unit susceptible of securing its ain country.

“We gave them each instrumentality they could need. We paid their salaries. Provided for the attraction of their airplanes,” Mr. Biden said. “We gave them each accidental to find their ain future. What we could not supply was the volition to combat for that future.”

Mr. Biden acknowledged that the Taliban triumph had travel overmuch faster than the United States had expected and that the withdrawal was “hard and messy.” But helium said that arsenic the 4th president to preside implicit the warfare successful Afghanistan, “the subordinate stops with me.”

“I basal squarely down my decision,” helium said, adding that helium would not “shrink from my stock of work for wherever we are today.”

He directed a question to critics of the withdrawal, asking, “How galore much generations of America’s daughters and sons would you person maine nonstop to combat Afghans — Afghanistan’s civilian war, erstwhile Afghan troops volition not?”

Mr. Biden spoke aft melodramatic images showed a frantic scramble to evacuate the American Embassy successful Kabul arsenic Taliban fighters advanced, drafting grim comparisons to America’s defeated retreat from Saigon astatine the extremity of the Vietnam War. Footage of radical clinging to a hulking U.S. subject transport, adjacent arsenic it near the ground, quickly circulated astir the world.

But successful his speech, Mr. Biden spent acold much clip defending his determination to depart from Afghanistan than the chaotic mode it was carried out.

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Women and children sitting connected  the tarmac astatine  Kabul’s planetary   airdrome  connected  Monday. The airdrome  was overrun with radical   seeking to permission  the country.
Credit...Wakil Kohsar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Taliban cemented their power of Afghanistan connected Monday, with scenes of handoffs to insurgent fighters playing retired crossed the state and reports that the Taliban were searching for radical they considered collaborators of the Americans and the fallen government.

In Washington, the Pentagon said troops had secured the airdrome successful Kabul, wherever flights resumed aft an earlier pause. Officials said determination would beryllium 6,000 American troops conducting information astatine the airdrome and helping the evacuation by aboriginal this week. State Department officials said Monday that the medication had evacuated 3,600 radical since mid-July, including astir 2,000 Afghans who qualified for peculiar migrant visas.

August 16, 2021

October 1, 2017

May 5, 2021

Faizabad

Mazar-i-Sharif

Mazar-i-Sharif

Mazar-i-Sharif

Sheberghan

Taliqan

Kunduz

Aybak

100 Miles

Sar-i-Pul

Pul-i-Khumri

Some of the

major cities

seized by

the Taliban

Herat

Kabul

Kabul

Kabul

Afghanistan

Afghanistan

Afghanistan

Farah

Lashkar Gah

Kandahar

Kandahar

Kandahar

Taliban-controlled districts

Contested districts

Government-controlled

Status unknown

Zaranj

Taliban-controlled districts

Contested districts

Government-controlled

Status unknown

October 1, 2017

Mazar-i-Sharif

Kabul

Afghanistan

Kandahar

May 5, 2021

Mazar-i-Sharif

Kabul

Afghanistan

Kandahar

August 16, 2021

Faizabad

Mazar-i-Sharif

Sheberghan

Taliqan

Kunduz

Aybak

Sar-i-Pul

Pul-i-Khumri

Herat

Kabul

Afghanistan

100 Miles

Some of the

major cities

seized by

the Taliban

Farah

Lashkar Gah

Kandahar

Zaranj

Taliban-controlled districts

Contested districts

Government-controlled

Status unknown

October 1, 2017

Mazar-i-Sharif

Kabul

Afghanistan

Kandahar

May 5, 2021

Mazar-i-Sharif

Kabul

Afghanistan

Kandahar

August 16, 2021

Mazar-i-Sharif

Kabul

Afghanistan

100 Miles

Some of the

major cities

seized by

the Taliban

Kandahar

Taliban-controlled districts Contested districts Government-controlled Status unknown

October 1, 2017

May 5, 2021

August 16, 2021

Faizabad

Mazar-i-Sharif

Mazar-i-Sharif

Mazar-i-Sharif

Taliqan

Sheberghan

Kunduz

Aybak

Sar-i-Pul

Pul-i-Khumri

Herat

Kabul

Kabul

Kabul

Afghanistan

Afghanistan

Afghanistan

100 Miles

Farah

Some of the

major cities

seized by

the Taliban

Lashkar Gah

Kandahar

Kandahar

Kandahar

Zaranj

Mr. Biden rejected disapproval from allies and adversaries, insisting that his medication had planned for the anticipation of a accelerated Taliban takeover and expressing pridefulness that diplomats and different Americans had been evacuated to comparative information astatine the airport.

“Afghanistan governmental leaders gave up and fled the country,” helium said, accusing the subject of laying down its arms aft 2 decades of U.S. grooming and hundreds of billions of dollars successful instrumentality and resources. “If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending U.S. subject engagement successful Afghanistan present was the close decision.”

Ashraf Ghani, the Afghan president, escaped the country arsenic the Taliban advanced.

Mr. Biden said Mr. Ghani failed to unrecorded up to his committedness that the Afghan subject was prepared to support the state aft the past American forces departed.

“Mr. Ghani insisted the Afghan forces would fight, but evidently helium was wrong,” Mr. Biden said.

The governmental effects of the illness of the Afghan authorities caught the White House disconnected guard, adjacent arsenic howls of disapproval poured successful from Republican and Democratic lawmakers, Afghan activists, overseas argumentation experts and officials from erstwhile administrations.

On Capitol Hill, Mr. Biden’s code stemmed immoderate of the fallout. Democrats who had criticized the president implicit the play praised him for laying retired the costs of America’s lengthy engagement successful the war.

“President Biden understands past erstwhile it comes to Afghanistan,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, a subordinate of Democratic leadership. “He made the hard determination to not manus implicit this longest of American wars to a 5th president, and had helium walked distant from the retreat statement primitively negotiated by President Trump, Taliban attacks connected U.S. forces would person restarted and required yet different surge successful U.S. troops.”

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Credit...Reuters

But Republicans placed the blasted squarely connected Mr. Biden.

Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the apical Republican successful the Senate, called it a “monumental collapse.” Senator Mitt Romney, Republican of Utah, said Mr. Biden failed to admit the “disastrous withdrawal.”

With thousands of Afghans hopeless to flight the Taliban’s takeover, different countries are bracing for a flood of refugees. Five Mediterranean countries connected the forefront of wide migration to Europe — Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Malta and Spain — person requested European Union-level talks connected Wednesday astir however to respond, according Greece’s migration ministry.

Image

Credit...Wakil Kohsar/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

There are besides concerns astir refugees flowing to Iran, Pakistan and Turkey.

Canada said past week that it would resettle much than 20,000 Afghans from groups it considers apt targets of the Taliban, including starring women, rights workers and L.G.B.T.Q. people.

The publishers of The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post called connected Mr. Biden to assistance evacuate Afghan journalists who had contributed to the papers’ sum of the region. In a associated missive connected Monday, the publishers asked Mr. Biden to “move urgently” to support the information of journalists and their families who “are trapped successful Kabul, their lives successful peril.”

Reacting to events of the play that near hundreds of Afghans desperately moving aft subject planes arsenic the medication ferried Americans to safety, Mr. Biden described the concern arsenic “gut wrenching” and said helium was “deeply saddened by the facts we present face.”

But helium repeatedly directed his ire astatine Afghanistan’s governmental leaders, saying helium unsuccessfully urged them to prosecute successful existent diplomacy.

“This proposal was flatly refused,” helium said.

Mr. Biden vowed again to rescue thousands of Afghans who had helped Americans during the two-decade conflict, but the destiny of galore who remained successful Kabul and different parts of Afghanistan was uncertain Monday. And thousands of Afghans with dual American citizenship remained unaccounted for amid reports of revenge attacks by the Taliban arsenic they seized control.

The president acknowledged disapproval that the medication did not determination rapidly capable to evacuate Afghans who served arsenic interpreters and others. But helium said the Afghan authorities had discouraged a wide evacuation, saying it would origin a “crisis of confidence” successful the country’s quality to combat the Taliban.

Over the weekend, Mr. Biden, who had been scheduled to stay connected abrogation done the week, remained with his household astatine the statesmanlike retreat successful the Maryland mountains alternatively than rapidly instrumentality to the White House portion the concern successful Afghanistan worsened. In summation to a agelong written connection connected Saturday, the White House released a photograph of Mr. Biden, sitting unsocial astatine a league country array astatine Camp David, arsenic helium conducted a virtual gathering with his overseas argumentation advisers connected a ample tv screen.

White House officials described respective hours of meetings passim the play and said the president was briefed galore times by apical intelligence, diplomatic and subject aides arsenic the medication raced to support up with a world successful Afghanistan that was changing by the hour.

On Thursday evening, officials urged reporters not to telephone the activities successful Kabul an “evacuation.” By the adjacent day, that admonition was gone arsenic the president ordered caller subject deployments to support embassy workers arsenic they fled from the arriving Taliban fighters.

White House officials said determination were “active discussions” passim the play astir erstwhile Mr. Biden should publically code the situation, and what helium would say. Officials said they did not privation the president to talk earlier the concern connected the crushed successful Kabul was stable.

But by Monday, officials had settled connected a connection successful which the president and his apical aides would admit that the Taliban takeover was much accelerated than they expected, but accidental the concern was nether power and successful enactment with Mr. Biden’s extremity of yet removing the United States from a never-ending war.

Jake Sullivan, the president’s nationalist information adviser, said connected NBC’s “Today” programme connected Monday that the medication was successful the process of what helium called a “successful drawdown of our embassy” adjacent arsenic helium acknowledged that “the velocity with which cities fell was overmuch greater than anyone anticipated, including the Afghans.”

Image

Credit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

In July, successful effect to questions from reporters, Mr. Biden said helium thought the autumn of the Afghan authorities was not inevitable due to the fact that the country’s service was 300,000 beardown and arsenic good equipped arsenic immoderate successful the world.

On Sunday, the nationalist Republican Party posted a nexus of Mr. Biden’s effect connected Twitter, adding, “This was conscionable 38 days ago.”

After Mr. Biden spoke, White House officials described successful much item the tensions betwixt Mr. Biden and Mr. Ghani erstwhile the now-deposed Afghan person made his past sojourn to Washington, connected June 25.

Mr. Ghani, they said, had pressed Mr. Biden not to determination retired of the state galore of the erstwhile translators and others who helped the American warfare effort, and to support immoderate actions were taken “low key,” for fearfulness that an evacuation would convey a deficiency of assurance successful the staying powerfulness of his government. Officials said they decided to proceed anyhow — though lone 2,000 of the applicants, little than 10 percent of the estimated total, had near the state earlier the Taliban rolled into Kabul.

Mr. Ghani besides asked for American close-air enactment for Afghan information forces and for the United States to permission much than 100 technicians astatine the Kabul airdrome to assistance support Afghan subject trade flying — a greatly diminished fig that American subject officials said would not beryllium capable to support a ample proportionality of the craft flying. On Aug. 6, officials said, the Pentagon held a tabletop workout to simulate a large-scale evacuation of civilians, precisely the cognition present underway.

Jonathan Weisman contributed reporting.

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