President Joe Biden initially planned to stay at the Camp David retreat with some of his family members until Wednesday, but he returned to the White House on Monday ahead of his address to the American public on the collapse of the U.S.-backed government in Afghanistan. 

Biden’s silence for the past six days about the dire situation in Afghanistan has already been heavily criticized on all political sides, especially now that the Taliban, the terrorist militant group that ran the country in the late 1990s and was responsible for harboring al-Qaeda, have taken over from the Western-backed Afghan government. After TV networks broadcast scenes from Kabul’s international airport, where desperate Afghans were seen running and clinging onto planes as they took off, Biden has remained resolute about his decision to withdraw American troops.

In a written statement over the weekend, Biden said he would send an additional 6,000 troops to the country and expressed his desire to end the 20-year conflict and end the “longest American war.”

Some of Biden’s senior advisers placed blame on former President Donald Trump for brokering a deal with the Taliban to withdraw American troops by May 1, 2021 and on the Afghan government’s defense forces for being incapable of protecting their country, even after the U.S. military provided them with training for two decades and billions in aid.

The withdrawal of the American troops from Afghanistan began on May 1, 2021 after Biden declared in mid-April that he wants to end the “forever war.” Biden’s goal has been to pull out all of the American forces, which number in 2,500, by September 11, 2021.

While he acknowledged in April that the U.S.-led invasion into Afghanistan in 2001 was a result of the 9/11 terrorist attack, he said that even that cannot justify American soldiers continuing to die in the war.

 

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels said that the alliance had come to the consensus that it would withdraw 7,000 forces from Afghanistan.

As vice president to former President Barack Obama, Biden was one of the few who advocated for a smaller counterterrorism role in Afghanistan. Other advisers then proposed a larger buildup to counter the Taliban. Biden has said recently that U.S. foreign policy should be focused on China and Russia.

On Monday, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani fled the country to seek refuge in Tajikistan

French President Emmanual Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders have criticized Biden’s handling of the situation, saying that they would have preferred to have been consulted before the decision was made to withdraw the American troops.

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