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US President Joe Biden on Monday strongly defended his decision to pull out American forces from Afghanistan, saying another 20 years of US occupation would not have changed the outcome.
He spoke in a broadcast to Americans, as he responded to US domestic critics, a day after the US-backed Afghan government collapsed and President Ashraf Ghani fled and the Taliban seized power without firing a shot.
Biden said the outcome witnessed on Sunday was inevitable so long as Afghan forces refused to take over the US’ fight against the Taliban.
The U.S. President who inherited a peace agreement signed by the Trump administration and Taliban, said he stands “squarely behind” his decision to pull US forces totally out of the country.
He said “there was never a good time to withdraw.”
“There is no chance that one more year, five more years, or 20 more years of US military boots on the ground would’ve made any difference,”
Bashing critics, he said it was “wrong to order American troops to step up when Afghanistan’s own armed forces would not.”
Biden said his national security team was moving to execute plans “put in place in response to every contingency, including the rapid collapse we’re seeing now,” which he said included deploying 6,000 troops to assist in the evacuation of American and allied civilians and the remainder of US assets in the country, including its embassy.
However, he conceded that “this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.”
Noting the US war in Afghanistan began in the aftermath of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda, which was based in southern Afghanistan, Biden said the primary purpose of the US presence in the country was to get those who had attacked the US, not to rebuild the country or sustain a pro-US government.
“Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation-building,” he said.
“It was never supposed to be creating a unified, centralized democracy. Our only vital national interest in Afghanistan remains today what it has always been: preventing a terrorist attack on [the] American homeland.”