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Biden defends decision to withdraw from Afghanistan after Taliban’s rapid return to power

President Biden addressed the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan during remarks on Aug. 16. Here’s his speech in less than 3 minutes. (Video: Blair Guild/The Washington Post)
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President Biden defended his decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan in remarks at the White House on Monday afternoon, blaming the Taliban’s takeover on the unwillingness of the Afghan army to fight the militant group and arguing that remaining in the country was not in the U.S. national interest.

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“American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves,” Biden said.

Afghans faced scenes of chaos and an uncertain future Monday as their nation grappled with the stunning collapse of its Western-backed government and Taliban fighters again swept to power over the weekend.

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin authorized the deployment of a third Army infantry battalion to Kabul airport, where thousands of Afghans have flocked in hope of fleeing the Taliban. The White House said late Monday that Biden had authorized up to $500 million in aid to support the needs of refugees and others “at risk as a result of the situation in Afghanistan.”

Military flights have been resumed at the airport, which U.S. forces have secured, after a pause Monday.

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Here are the significant developments

  • Chaotic scenes at the airport contrasted with many parts of downtown Kabul, where Monday passed largely peacefully.
  • French President Emmanuel Macron warned of a potential influx of Afghan migrants into Europe, adding that European Union leaders are in contact to launch an initiative against irregular migration. He also added that France would welcome Afghans who had worked with its forces, as well as human rights activists.
  • President Biden defended his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan in a speech at the White House on Monday afternoon, though he acknowledged that the Afghan government’s collapse took place more quickly than expected.
  • U.S. troops at Kabul’s international airport came under fire at least twice, and one American service member may have been wounded, the Pentagon said. By Tuesday morning, there could be up to 3,500 U.S. troops on the ground.