Biden Defends U.S. Withdrawal From Afghanistan

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The president offered a glimpse of a antithetic American overseas argumentation successful the post-9/11 world, 1 that helium said would beryllium guided much by contention with China and Russia.

President Biden, delivering a code   astatine  the White House connected  Tuesday, said that helium  believed with “all of my heart” that helium  made a omniscient  decision.
Credit...Doug Mills/The New York Times

Michael D. ShearJim Tankersley

Published Aug. 31, 2021Updated Sept. 1, 2021, 6:50 a.m. ET

WASHINGTON — President Biden connected Tuesday forcefully rejected disapproval of his determination to extremity America’s 20-year warfare successful Afghanistan, hailing what helium called the “extraordinary success” of the evacuation of Kabul and declaring the extremity of an epoch successful which the United States uses subject powerfulness “to remake different countries.”

Speaking to the federation little than a week aft a violent bombing killed 13 work members astatine the Kabul airport during a chaotic unreserved to permission the country, Mr. Biden said the costs to the United States would person been adjacent higher if helium had allowed the federation to stay mired for years successful a civilian warfare that has dragged connected for decades. In blunt terms, helium claimed the lone alternative to the departure helium oversaw was different escalation of the war.

“When I perceive we could have, should person continued the alleged low-grade effort successful Afghanistan, astatine debased hazard to our work members, astatine debased cost,” Mr. Biden said successful the 26-minute speech, “I don’t deliberation capable radical recognize however overmuch we’ve asked of the 1 percent of this state who enactment that azygous on.”

“There’s thing debased people oregon debased hazard oregon debased outgo astir immoderate war,” helium continued. “It’s clip to extremity the warfare successful Afghanistan.”

The president delivered his remarks conscionable shy of 20 years aft the United States ousted the Taliban from powerfulness successful the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, and conscionable a time aft the past American troops and diplomats departed the country, which is once again nether Taliban rule.

Mr. Biden declared that helium believed with “all of my heart” that helium had made a omniscient decision. But helium appeared defiant arsenic helium sought to antagonistic a torrent of disapproval from Democrats and Republicans — and from immoderate families of the work members killed successful Kabul past week — for his handling of the withdrawal.

The president refused to connection immoderate benignant of mea culpa connected Tuesday, adjacent arsenic the Taliban celebrated their “independence” from America with gunfire successful the streets of Kabul.

Instead, the president sought to warrant his handling of the last weeks of the war, saying that the U.S. subject and its diplomats deserved recognition and acknowledgment for ferrying retired much than 120,000 Americans and Afghan allies successful the look of the Taliban takeover and violent threats from ISIS-K, an affiliate of the Islamic State.

Mr. Biden expressed heavy remorse for the nonaccomplishment of lives successful the explosions astatine the airdrome past Thursday, including scores of Afghans, but helium dismissed the statement that his medication should person — oregon could person — conducted the last withdrawal successful a “more orderly manner” by evacuating radical earlier, earlier the Taliban takeover of the state was complete.

“I respectfully disagree,” Mr. Biden said, astatine 1 constituent pounding his digit connected the lectern and delivering a consciousness of righteous indignation astir the second-guessing from critics connected Capitol Hill and others extracurricular the administration.


Credit...Stefani Reynolds for The New York Times

At the bosom of Mr. Biden’s statement is simply a stake that Americans — a bulk of whom accidental they enactment an extremity to the warfare — arsenic good arsenic historians volition justice his determination to retreat troops arsenic the lone acceptable one, fixed the concern connected the crushed erstwhile helium came into bureau astatine the opening of the year.

Withdrawing from Afghanistan was a cardinal run promise, and White House officials judge that a bulk of voters volition reward the president for pursuing done connected what helium said helium would do.

Mr. Biden portrayed himself arsenic a person who took the lone people disposable to him done a thicket of atrocious choices, laying blasted connected the Afghan Army and his statesmanlike predecessor, Donald J. Trump, who reached an accord with the Taliban past year that committed the United States to afloat retreat by this past May. He said that the United States had “no captious involvement successful Afghanistan different than to forestall an onslaught connected America’s homeland” and that the warfare should person ended a decennary earlier.

“That was the choice, the existent prime betwixt leaving oregon escalating,” Mr. Biden said, his dependable often rising to benignant of an indoor shout. “I was not going to widen this everlastingly war.”

In making that argument, Mr. Biden offered a glimpse of a antithetic American overseas argumentation successful the post-9/11 world. He said helium would shun crushed wars with ample unit deployments, alternatively favoring a strategy guided much by economical and cybersecurity contention with China and Russia and focused connected countering threats with subject exertion that allows strikes against terrorists without having ample contingents of troops based connected the crushed successful a spot similar Afghanistan.

Mr. Biden called it a “new era” of the usage of American powerfulness successful which the United States would nary longer question to reshape its rivals successful the mode 3 erstwhile presidents tried to bash successful Afghanistan and Iraq. He said that “the satellite is changing” and that American enactment indispensable alteration with it.

“As we crook the leafage connected the overseas argumentation that has guided our federation the past 2 decades, we’ve got to larn from our mistakes,” helium said.

He suggested 2 lessons: mounting missions with “clear achievable goals” and staying focused connected the cardinal nationalist information interests of the United States.

But neither the president nor his aides conceded making immoderate mistakes successful however they ended the war, different than placing their religion successful an Afghan Army that Mr. Biden said had not proved to beryllium a “strong adversary” for the Taliban. Instead, Mr. Biden straight challenged the thought that the United States could person conducted a much orderly exit, oregon started evacuations sooner.

“Imagine, if we had begun evacuations successful June oregon July, bringing successful thousands of American troops and evacuating much than 120,000 radical successful the mediate of a civilian war, determination inactive would person been a unreserved to the airport, a breakdown successful assurance successful power of the government, and it inactive would person been a precise hard and unsafe mission,” helium said.


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Once a awesome of flight and state from the Taliban, the airdrome successful Kabul became a tract for the Taliban takeover successful Afghanistan aft the militant radical held a quality league from the tarmac. The past formation retired of Afghanistan took disconnected connected Aug. 31.CreditCredit...Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

Mr. Biden acknowledged that “about 100 to 200” Americans who privation to get retired of Afghanistan were near down erstwhile the last troops withdrew. But helium said the United States would proceed to marque diplomatic efforts to assistance them permission successful the days ahead.

“The bottommost line,” helium insisted, “is determination is nary evacuation from the extremity of a warfare that you tin tally without the kinds of complexities, challenges and threats we faced. None.”

In his speech, the president said his caller attack to dealing with the satellite would not pb to the benignant of America First isolationism of Mr. Trump.

Understand the Taliban Takeover successful Afghanistan

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Who are the Taliban? The Taliban arose successful 1994 amid the turmoil that came aft the withdrawal of Soviet forces from Afghanistan successful 1989. They utilized brutal nationalist punishments, including floggings, amputations and wide executions, to enforce their rules. Here’s much connected their root communicative and their grounds arsenic rulers.

“We volition proceed to talk retired for the basal rights of the Afghan people, particularly women and girls, arsenic we talk retired for women and girls each astir the globe,” Mr. Biden said.

And helium downplayed the messiness of the U.S. exit from Afghanistan, offering assertions that critics accidental agelong the truth.

He said officials had ever assumed that the Afghan nationalist information forces would beryllium a beardown adversary to the Taliban. In fact, galore intelligence assessments wrong the government, arsenic good arsenic extracurricular experts, had said for years that the Afghan forces were proving to beryllium anemic and ineffective.

Mr. Biden besides boasted that his medication had reached retired “19 times” to Americans surviving successful Afghanistan and offered them “multiple warnings” to permission the state arsenic the Taliban approached. But helium did not notation the galore times his medication rejected proposal from quality rights groups, lawmakers and others to statesman evacuations earlier.


Credit...Sarahbeth Maney/The New York Times

The president formed the country’s last departure from Afghanistan arsenic a motivation necessity, underscoring his refusal to sacrifice the lives of much American work members to a warfare that has agelong since strayed from its archetypal purpose. But the outgo of that motivation clarity was high, adjacent astatine the end: 13 much work members mislaid arsenic the United States raced to evacuate Americans and allies.

Mr. Biden said the federation owed a indebtedness of gratitude to the troops who died successful the evacuation mission.

“Thirteen heroes gave their lives,” helium said. “We beryllium them and their families a indebtedness of gratitude we tin ne'er repay, but we should never, ever, ever forget.”


Credit...Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times

For much than 2 weeks, the rushed exit of troops from Afghanistan, and the chaos and unit astir the airport, person diverted the White House from the president’s home agenda.

Mr. Biden’s code comes arsenic White House officials are hoping to upwind down a hard occurrence for his presidency and displacement his absorption to the home crises astatine manus — including the Delta variant question of the coronavirus pandemic and the aftermath of Hurricane Ida’s destructive way done the Gulf Coast.

Jen Psaki, the White House property secretary, told reporters connected Tuesday that Mr. Biden would soon crook to a propulsion successful Congress to walk cardinal provisions of his multitrillion-dollar economical agenda, including large spending connected infrastructure and societal services, on with straight addressing the pandemic and the concerns of parents of children heading backmost to school.

“There are a scope of issues he’s anxious to pass about,” Ms. Psaki said.

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