President Biden defended his withdrawal from Afghanistan Tuesday as he addressed the nation for the first time after the final U.S. troops evacuated from Kabul airport, bringing an official end to the longest war in U.S. history.
President Joe Biden: “Leave Afghanistan or say we weren’t leaving and commit another tens of thousands more troops going back to war. That was the choice — the real choice — between leaving or escalating. I was not going to extend this forever war, and I was not extending a forever exit.”
Biden said the withdrawal also marks an end to war as a tool for nation-building. Meanwhile, the Taliban held its first press conference after the U.S. withdrawal, saying it was seeking good relations with all nations.
Zabihullah Mujahid: “Neighboring countries, Islamic countries, all countries: The Americans who were ousted from our country last night, we want good relations with them also, because we are part of the international community. We do not want our country to be a victim of war or interference. We are on the path of peace with all nations.”
With the Kabul airport now closed for evacuations, border crossings by land are expected to rise, triggering a possible refugee crisis in the region. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres also warned Tuesday of an impending “humanitarian catastrophe” after the Taliban takeover, with services at risk of collapsing and nearly half the population in urgent need of aid.