President Joe Biden said on Monday the mission of the United States in Afghanistan was never supposed to be nation building as he defended his decision to pull out U.S. troops from the country.
Thousands of civilians desperate to flee Afghanistan thronged Kabul airport’s single runway on Monday after the Taliban seized the capital, prompting the United States to suspend evacuations as it came under mounting criticism at home.
Here are the key points from President Biden’s speech:
- The US president said he stood by his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, adding that he would not pass the war on to a fifth president
- He said the 20-year mission was not meant to be about “nation building” or “creating a unified, central democracy”, but was designed to prevent a terrorist attack on American soil
- Biden conceded that the country had folded “quicker than anticipated”
- He said American troops were trying to gain control of the airport and take over air traffic control
- Biden also warned that if American troops are attacked by the Taliban, the US would “defend our people with devastating force”