Insight Online News
Washington, Aug 31 : Facing mounting criticism at home and abroad over the manner in which the US exited Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden on Tuesday said he sticks by his decision to withdraw and that it was the best decision for America.
In an address to the nation, a day after the US wound down its presence in Afghanistan and suspended operations in its embassy in Kabul, Biden said the US had evacuated 90 percent of American citizens and only about 100-200 remained there.
He added that there was “no deadline” to evacuate those who are still in Afghanistan and want to leave.
Referring to the UN Security Council resolution on Afghanistan passed on Monday, with India holding the month-long presidency, Biden said: “Yesterday, the UNSC passed a resolution that sent a clear message to the Taliban, on what the international community expects the Taliban to live up to – the freedom (of people) to leave.. We will make sure the Taliban live up to those commitments.”
He said the Taliban has made public commitments on safe passage. “We take them not by their word alone but by their actions; and we will make sure the commitments are met.”
He said the deadline of August 31 for US forces and personnel to leave Afghanistan “was designed to save American lives”.
Taking full responsibility for the decision to leave, that has drawn much flak and seen his ratings drop, Biden said: “I take responsibility for the decision”.
To criticism that the exit could have been done in a more orderly manner, he said that the US could not have begun evacuating its people in June-July in the middle of the Afghan civil war with the Taliban over running provinces across the nation.
“It would have been very difficult and very dangerous,” he added.
“The bottom line is there is no evacuation in the middle of a war.”
To criticism from some that the US could have stayed on in Afghanistan, he said: “Everything had changed, my predecessor had made a deal with the Taliban, the Taliban onslaught was coming. I could either get out or escalate the war.”
In remarks that were similar to his last speech earlier this month justifying the US decision to leave, he said: “To those asking for a third decade of war, I ask what is the vital interest in it. The vital interest is to make sure Afghanistan is never used to launch attacks on our homeland.”
He said there was “No vital interest in Afghanistan other than preventing an attack on our homeland”.
“It was time to end the war.”
Referring to the superior drone capabilities that the US military possesses, he said that there was no need to have boots on the ground anymore to attack terrorists. They could be killed by launching a rocket attack remotely.
“We just don’t need to fight a ground war to do it. We can strike terrorists without boots on the ground, we have shown the capability last week (in eliminating ISIS-K terrorists in Afghanistan). We struck ISIS-K last week,” he said, and added in an ominous tone “And ISIS-K we are not done with you yet.”
He was referring to the suicide bombing carried out by the terror group outside Kabul airport on August 26 in which 13 US troopers were killed besides 170 Afghan nationals.
Referring to China and Russia, he said that the US is dealing with the two rivals and that there was “nothing that Russia and China would rather have than the US bogged down in another decade of war in Afghanistan.”
He said the US has to learn from its mistakes, and outlined two points:
First, we must set our mission with clear achievable goals, not ones we will not achieve.
Second, stick to the fundamental national interest of America.
In a warning to the enemies of the US, he said: “To those who wish America harm, know this, the US will never rest, will not forget and will not forgive, we will hunt you down to the end of the earth.”
He said the US despite exiting from Afghanistan will push for human rights in Afghanistan and speak up for the basic rights of women and girls
He said the war in Afghanistan had cost the nation $300 million each day for the past two decades, and added he did not want to send another generation of sons and daughters to fight the war that should have ended.
He referred to those injured in the Afghan war over the past two decades and said that the cost of war is high and war can never be low grade.
“There is nothing low grade or low risk about war, it was time to end the war, for a future that is safer and secure.”
“I believe this is the right decision, a wise decision and the best decision for America.”