Have your say: Is Joe Biden right to 'stand squarely behind' US withdrawal from Afghanistan?

·3 min read

Joe Biden has made a defiant defence of his decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan.

The US president said he stood "squarely behind" the move to bring troops home, despite chaos at the capital Kabul’s international airport on Monday.

Thousands of people flocked to the airport in a desperate effort to board planes out of Afghanistan after it was seized by the Taliban, in scenes which one European leader said 'shamed the west'.

There were reports of seven deaths at the airport, with two people reported to have been killed after falling from a military plane after it took off.

US troops, who secured the airport, shot and killed two armed Afghan men who attempted to breach the perimeter.

Biden admitted it was a "messy" end to 20 years of a US-led coalition in the Afghanistan, but he stood by his decision to withdraw all American troops by 11 September.

On Tuesday, NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg said the alternative to the US withdrawing from Afghanistan was 'more fighting, more troops, more combat'.

Mr Stoltenberg said the US signed an agreement in February last year with the Taliban and agreed to end the military presence.

He said: "We saw the risks, we anticipated the challenges. But no one anticipated the speed of the collapse."

In an address on Monday evening from the White House, Biden said: "If anything, the developments of the past week reinforce that ending US military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision.

Watch: Biden says he stands 'squarely behind' Afghanistan decision

"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.

"How many more American lives is it worth?"

Biden said that, when he was vice-president, he opposed former President Barack Obama’s decision to deploy thousands more US troops to Afghanistan.

He also pointed out he had inherited a deal negotiated by his predecessor, Donald Trump, with the Taliban for the US to withdraw by May of this year.

However, the images of throngs trying to flee Kabul are 'shameful' for Western nations, Germany's president said on Tuesday.

President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said: "We are experiencing a human tragedy for which we share responsibility. The images of despair at Kabul airport shame the political West."

Biden said he was the fourth US president to preside over what is the US’s longest war, and that he would not pass the mantle to a fifth.

Read more: Desperate Afghans cling to US plane amid chaos at Kabul airport

KABUL, AFGHANISTAN-AUGUST 16: Thousands of Afghans rush to the Hamid Karzai International Airport as they try to flee the Afghan capital of Kabul, Afghanistan, on August 16, 2021. (Photo by Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
People climb the walls to enter Kabul international airport as they attempt to flee Afghanistan. (Getty)
TOPSHOT - Afghan people climb atop a plane as they wait at the Kabul airport in Kabul on August 16, 2021, after a stunningly swift end to Afghanistan's 20-year war, as thousands of people mobbed the city's airport trying to flee the group's feared hardline brand of Islamist rule. (Photo by Wakil Kohsar / AFP) (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)
People wait on top of a plane at Kabul international airport on Monday in an effort to flee Afghanistan. (Getty)
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks in the East Room of the White House on Thursday, July 8, 2021. Biden met with security advisers before delivering remarks about the U.S. troop drawdown from Afghanistan, where the Taliban is rapidly advancing on the heels of the U.S. departure. Photographer: Tom Brenner/Pool/Sipa USA
US president Joe Biden was in defiant mood as he defended his decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan. (PA)

"I will not mislead the American people by claiming that just a little more time in Afghanistan will make all the difference," he said.

He admitted the Taliban surge to power had unfolded "more quickly than we had anticipated" - last month, he said it was "highly unlikely" its fighters would take over the whole of Afghanistan.

While opinion polls suggest most Americans back the withdrawal, Biden faces fierce opposition from politicians in the US, with many accusing him of abandoning the people of Afghanistan.

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