Biden on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan: ‘I stand squarely behind my decision’

In a speech on Monday after the Taliban took over Kabul, the capital city of Afghanistan, President Biden said, “I stand squarely behind my decision” to withdraw U.S. troops from the country.

Video Transcript

JOE BIDEN: When I came into office, I inherited a deal that President Trump negotiated with the Taliban. Under his agreement, US forces would be out of Afghanistan by May 1, 2021, just a little over three months after I took office. US forces had already drawn down during the Trump administration from roughly 15,500 American forces to 2,500 troops in country, and the Taliban was at its strongest militarily since 2001.

The choice I had to make, as your president, was easier to follow through on that agreement or be prepared to go back to fighting the Taliban in the middle of the Spring fighting season. There would have been no cease fire after May 1. There was no agreement, protecting our forces after May 1.

There was no status quo of stability without American casualties after May 1. There was only a cold reality of either following through on the agreement to withdraw our forces, or escalating the conflict, and sending thousands more American troops back into combat in Afghanistan, lurching into the third decade of conflict. I stand squarely behind my decision.

After 20 years, I've learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces. That's why we're still there. We were clear eyed about the risks. We planned for every contingency, but I always promised the American people that I would be straight with you. The truth is this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated.

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