Biden rebuffs criticism of Afghanistan meltdown

President Joe Biden delivering a speech on Afghanistan.
President Joe Biden delivering a speech on Afghanistan.

As Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country and the United States lowered the flag at its embassy in Kabul, U.S. President Joe Biden said the decision to withdraw troops from the country “is the right one for America.”

In a speech Monday, Biden said he had no regrets despite the “gutwrenching images” coming out of Afghanistan after the Taliban’s swift takeover of the government.

Where do things stand in Afghanistan? Senior U.S. military officials said chaos at the airport in Kabul left seven people dead Monday, including some who fell from a departing American military transport jet. The Pentagon confirmed that U.S. forces shot and killed two individuals it said were armed as Biden ordered another battalion of troops—about 1,000—to secure the airfield.

Biden admitted he did not expect the Afghan military, in which international allies invested billions of dollars, to fold so quickly, but “American troops cannot and should not be fighting the war, and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.”

The rapid pullout of U.S. troops and personnel in Afghanistan, and the corresponding Taliban takeover, have drawn widespread criticism, including from Florida lawmakers. 

“The intelligence community was CLEAR in multiple briefings to Congress that the Taliban were in a strong position and that al Qaeda & the Taliban are still married at the hip,” tweeted Rep. Michael Waltz, R-Fla., a former Army Green Beret who fought in Afghanistan. “This was a policy failure, not an intelligence failure.”

Rep. Stephanie Murphy, D-Fla., whose family fled Vietnam four decades ago, said she was “disappointed” in the chaotic pullout, according to Politico Playbook

Dig deeper: Read Mindy Belz’s report on the chaos in Afghanistan, including interviews with those on the ground.  

—With reporting from J.C. Derrick

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2021, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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