The president addressed the nation Monday over rising concerns about the situation in Afghanistan.
President Joe Biden admitted that the collapse of the Afghan government and the Taliban retaking control happened more quickly than the US government had anticipated, insisted that ending America’s 20-year war was the correct decision.
He refused to back away from his decision to end the American military's combat mission in the nation, where the US had fought the nation's longest war, asserting that the US mission was "never supposed to be nation-building" and blaming the Afghan government for the fall.
“It was never supposed to be creating a unified centralized democracy. Our only vital national interest in Afghanistan remains today what it has always been, preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland,” said Biden.
Afghans rushed onto the tarmac as thousands tried to escape after the Taliban seized power. Some clung to the side of a US military plane before takeoff, in a widely shared video that captured the desperation as America’s 20-year war comes to a chaotic end.
The president said earlier this summer, he had frank conversations with Afghan president Ashraf Ghani and chairman of the Afghan delegation to peace talks Abdullah, but ultimately he said they didn't take the US' suggestions.
“I am president of the United States of America, and the buck stops with me. I'm deeply saddened by the facts we now face, but I do not regret my decision to end America’s warfighting in Afghanistan and maintain a laser focus on our counterterrorism missions there and in other parts of the world,” said Biden.
Biden said he’d rather take the criticism over the fallout than pass the decision of how and when to withdraw to a fifth US president.
While the president is certain in his beliefs many took to Facebook to voice their concerns.
Larry Paris wrote “a leader leads a leader does not blame” and Gerardo Garza wrote, “ I lost brothers in that war and more people are going to be slaughtered.”
The president did not answer press questions during the address but did offer this message to the Taliban that if US personnel are attacked during their departure the US response will be swift and forceful.
Immediately following the speech, Biden returned to Camp David, where he spent the weekend on vacation.