With the Taliban in control of Afghanistan and desperate Afghans clinging to US planes amid chaos at Kabul's airport, President Biden is defending his decision to pull American troops out of the country. "I stand squarely behind my decision,” he said at the White House Monday, per the Guardian. "After 20 years, I’ve learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw US forces." Biden said the choice he had to make as president was between following through on an agreement to draw down US forces or "escalating the conflict and sending thousands more American troops back into combat and lurching into the third decade of conflict," the New York Times reports.
Biden acknowledged that events "did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated"—but said the stunning collapse of Afghan government forces as the Taliban advanced showed he had made the right decision. "It is wrong to order American troops to step up when Afghanistan’s own armed forces would not," the president said, arguing that the collapse was "sadly proof that no amount of military force would ever deliver a stable, united, secure Afghanistan." He said he does not regret his decision and would not "shrink from my share of responsibility for where we are today." Biden —who left without taking questions from reporters—said the US "will defend our people with devastating force, if necessary" if the Taliban attacks US citizens. (Newspaper editorials Monday were sharply critical of Biden.)