President Joe Biden addressed the nation Tuesday afternoon, presenting a detailed defense of his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and once again honoring the lives of the 13 U.S. service members killed in a terrorist attack last week.
Biden’s speech came the day of the deadline for withdrawing U.S. forces from the country. All U.S. troops were reportedly evacuated, though at least 100 Americans, possibly several hundred, remain.
“Last night in Kabul, the United States ended 20 years of war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history,” Biden said to kick off the speech.
Biden went on to tout the logistical accomplishment of U.S. forces carrying out the hurried evacuation of more than 120,000 people. The president maintained his messaging on the withdrawal, insisting he would not pass the lengthy war to the next generation.
“I refused to send another generation of America’s sons and daughters to fight a war that should have ended long ago,” Biden said in his speech from the White House.
Biden responded to pushback over the number of Americans left behind in Afghanistan, which he estimated at 100 to 200, though no concrete numbers have been made public and other estimates have been higher. Critics have attacked the president over reports that many Americans were unable to board planes to leave the country in recent days, in part because they were unable to get past the Taliban perimeter that was working in conjunction with the U.S. to secure the Kabul airport.
“The bottom line is, 90% of Americans in Afghanistan who wanted to leave were able to leave, and for those remaining Americans, there is no deadline,” Biden said, arguing that Americans in the country were given earlier opportunities to exit. Many experts, though, did not expect the nation to fall into Taliban hands so quickly.
Biden has taken criticism not only for the Americans left behind, but also the equipment. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., of the Republican Study Committee sparked headlines for his estimate that $85 billion of military equipment was left behind in Afghanistan, much of which is expected to fall into the Taliban’s hands.
Many Republicans were quick to respond to the speech, dismissing Biden’s defense.
“If President Biden were serious about defending America from the threat of terror, he wouldn’t have surrendered to the terrorists and handed the Taliban, al Qaeda and ISIS an entire country from which they can plot and plan terror attacks against America,” said. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo.
Biden rebuffed the idea of retaining a small military presence in the country, saying the toll on America’s troops and coffers was too high.
“There is nothing low grade or low risk or low cost about any war,” Biden said. “It is time to end the war in Afghanistan.”
This article was originally posted on Biden defends withdrawal, declares end of war in Afghanistan