United States President Joe Biden gave a speech this afternoon on America’s response to the crisis in Afghanistan. Biden took a firm stance defending the withdrawal of American troops from the country.
The president gave a harrowing context for his position, reminding his audience that the war in Afghanistan has been ongoing for the past 20 years — and has changed hands between four different American presidents.
“The choice I had to make as your President was either to follow through on the agreement to drawdown our forces,” Biden said in his speech, “or escalating the conflict and sending thousands more American troops back into combat and lurching into the third decade of conflict.”
With that in mind, Biden believes that the conflict taking place is no longer America’s war: the Commander-in-Chief succinctly outlined the ways the U.S. has attempted to help Afghanistan fight the Taliban by providing billions of dollars in military equipment and training. Biden felt that America had done all it can to aid the Afghan government, but they were unable to convert this assistance into success:
“Afghanistan political leaders gave up and fled the country,” said Biden. “If anything, the developments of the past week reinforce that ending US military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision.”
While much of Biden’s speech was grounded in the decades-long precedent that led to the current turmoil in Afghanistan, he did say that his administration had not anticipated the speed by which the events of the past three days took place.
Biden also said that the U.S. would send 6,000 troops solely for the purpose of helping American citizens and allies in their evacuation from Afghanistan, and that deployment in Afghanistan would end with these forces.
Scenes from the evacuation of Afghanistan
Harrowing scenes from the evacuation unfolded earlier on Monday, where many were desperate to leave the country rushed the Kabul airport. The evacuation quickly devolved into chaos, with moments of palpable horror playing out as thousands of people ran onto the tarmac in a frenzied rush to try to make it onto airplanes that were leaving the war-torn country for the last time.
Some were so desperate to escape the clutches of the Taliban that they somehow crammed into the wheel wells of a US military jet as it took off, later plunging to their deaths.
Three people were seen falling from the jet as it flew over buildings in the Afghan capital; their bodies landed on the flat roofs of the buildings.
At least seven people died in the Monday morning chaos, according to U.S. officials, as America’s longest war ended in another scene of chaos reminiscent of Saigon in 1974, with locals clinging to airport structures to try to force their way onto the last aircraft leaving the country.
Other attempts at evacuation were more successful. One U.S. Air Force aircraft safely evacuated 640 Afghans from Kabul on Sunday, allowing the eager group to exceed the capacity of the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.
— Marcus Weisgerber (@MarcusReports) August 16, 2021