Calling the withdrawal from Afghanistan “an extraordinary success,” President Biden addressed the nation to lay out the reasons why he ended the longest war in American history.
In a 26-minute speech given the day after the last U.S. service members were flown out of Kabul, the president vowed to continue counterterrorism operations and monitor any threats that could emanate from Afghanistan. He said this could be done without having forces in the country. Biden said ending the war allows the U.S. to focus on foreign policy elsewhere, such as cyber-terror threats and the proliferation of nuclear weapon technologies.
Biden also issued a warning to ISIS-K, the terror group behind the airport bombing that killed 13 U.S. service members and dozens of Afghan civilians, saying “We are not done with you yet.”
He also took a moment to honor those killed in the terror attack.
“Thirteen heroes gave their lives. We owe them and their families a debt of gratitude we can never repay, but we should never, ever, ever forget.”
The President commended the U.S. military for carrying out a massive evacuation effort over a two-week period. He has received criticism from both sides of the political aisle for the chaotic nature of the withdrawal, but he pointed out that 125,000 people have been airlifted out of Kabul, including more than 5,500 Americans who made it out before evacuations ended on Monday.
The New York Times writes that the speech took on a somewhat defiant tone as the president sought to let the American people know he remains convinced his decision to leave Afghanistan was right and just.
Mr. Biden appeared intent on forcefully rejecting criticism of the end of the 20-year war in Afghanistan, offering a defensive recounting of his decision-making and blaming former President Donald J. Trump for negotiating a bad deal with the Taliban that boxed Mr. Biden and his team in.
President Biden on Tuesday vehemently defended his decision to end America’s war in Afghanistan, saying the choice was "between leaving or escalating."
"I was not going to extend this forever war," Biden declared. https://t.co/hJ4fh29LNA
— The New York Times (@nytimes) August 31, 2021
Biden delivered his remarks almost 20 years after the United States ousted the Taliban from power following the September 11 attacks on American soil.