President Joe Biden returned to the White House to address the deteriorating situation unfolding in Afghanistan.
"We have to be honest, our mission in Afghanistan is taking many missteps — made many missteps over the past two decades. I'm now the fourth American president to preside over war in Afghanistan. Two Democrats and two Republicans. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth president. I will not mislead the American people by claiming that just a little more time in Afghanistan will make all the difference. Nor will I shrink from my share of responsibility for where we are today in how we must move forward from here," Biden said.
President Biden defended his decision to end America's longest-running war, saying that the mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to be about "nation-building."
"I went to Afghanistan almost 20 years ago with clear goals: get those who attacked us on Sept. 11, 2001, and make sure al Qaeda could not use Afghanistan as a base from which to attack us again. We did that. We severely degraded al Qaeda and Afghanistan. We never gave up the hunt for Osama bin Laden, and we got him. That was a decade ago. Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation-building," Biden said.
"I stand squarely behind my decision," Biden said. "After 20 years, I've learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces. That's why we're still there."
Biden admitted that the Taliban took over the country faster than his administration anticipated but explained that keeping troops in Afghanistan would not have changed the final outcome.
"We were clear-eyed about the risks," he said. "We planned for every contingency. But I always promised the American people that I will be straight with you. The truth is, this did unfold more quickly than we had anticipated."
Biden pointed out that many Afghan troops and leaders surrendered without a fight when the Taliban started advancing through the country.
"So what's happened? Afghanistan's political leaders gave up and fled the country. The Afghan military collapsed, some without trying to fight. If anything, the developments of the past week reinforced that ending U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan now was the right decision," Biden said.
"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."
The Taliban has reclaimed the country, leaving thousands of people stranded as they tried to evacuate the country. In response, the U.S. sent 7,000 troops back to the country to assist with evacuating U.S. citizens and staff from the U.S. Embassy.
Dramatic video showed hundreds of Afghans running across the tarmac trying to board a U.S. Air Force C-17 transport plane as it took off. Officials said that at least seven people died in the chaos. Two other people were shot and killed by U.S. forces after opening fire near the airport.