President Joe Biden on Saturday bluntly defended the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan even as the Taliban continues to gain ground there, saying continued troop presence would have made no difference to the country's trajectory if its internal government was unprepared to step up.
The Biden administration has come under criticism in recent days as the Taliban has swept across much of the country, tripling the number of districts it controls and raising concerns that it could overtake the capital of Kabul in a month's time.
In a press release from the White House, Biden argued that "one more year, or five more years, of U.S. military presence would not have made a difference" in Afghanistan "if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country."
"And an endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me," he added.
The president argued that he had inherited a suboptimal situation from the Trump administration, one that forced him to make difficult choices as to the deployment of U.S. troops in the country.
"I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan—two Republicans, two Democrats," he said. "I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth."