Washington: President Biden on Tuesday hailed what he called the “extraordinary success” of the evacuation of Kabul as he vehemently defended his decision to end America’s war in Afghanistan, just one day after the end of a two-week rescue of 125,000 people from Kabul that saw the deaths of 13 service members.
Biden said from the White House that the nation owed a debt of gratitude to the troops who died in the evacuation mission.
He forcefully rejected criticism of the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan, offering a defensive recounting of his decision-making and blaming former President Trump for negotiating a bad deal with the Taliban that boxed Mr. Biden and his team in.
“That was the choice, the real choice between leaving or escalating,” Mr. Biden declared, his tone angry and defensive. “I was not going to extend this forever war.”
“I’m the fourth president who has faced the issue of whether and when to end this war. When I was running for president, I made a commitment to the American people that I would end this war. Today I’ve honored that commitment.”
Before Mr. Biden’s speech, Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said that the President approaches our foreign policy through the prism of what is in our national interests, including how best to continue to keep the American people safe.”
The president delivered his remarks almost 20 years after the United States ousted the Taliban from power in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks, and just a day after the last American troops and diplomats departed the country, which is once again under Taliban rule.
Mr. Biden pointedly did not announce the news on Monday that the final transport plane carrying American forces had left Afghanistan, leaving that instead to Pentagon officials who briefed reporters after the plane had left Afghan airspace.
Mr. Biden’s speech comes as White House officials are hoping to wind down a difficult episode for his presidency, and focus instead on domestic crises at hand — including the ongoing Delta variant wave of the Covid-19 pandemic and the aftermath of Hurricane Ida’s destructive path through the Gulf Coast.