Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sign up for Axios NW Arkansas

Stay up-to-date on the most important and interesting stories affecting NW Arkansas, authored by local reporters

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Photo: Samuel Corum/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Amid rising fear and chaos in Afghanistan, President Biden staunchly stood by the decision to leave the country on Monday afternoon, saying the U.S. mission there was always “narrowly focused on counterterrorism, not counterinsurgency or nation-building."

Why it matters: Speaking from the White House's East Room, Biden said he will not pass on the conflict to a fifth U.S. president and that the U.S. would no longer fight a war that is "not in our national security interest." 

  • "It is not what the American people want. It is not what our troops who have sacrificed so much over the past two decades deserve."
  • "I know my decision will be criticized. But I would rather take all that criticism than pass this decision on to another president of the United States, yet another one, a fifth one."
  • Biden also said he did not move to evacuate people sooner to avoid a "crisis of confidence."
  • "I am President of the United States of America and the buck stops with me. I'm deeply saddened by the facts we now face. But I do not regret my decision to end America's war fighting in Afghanistan," he said.

Biden said the nation's rapid descent into Taliban rule serves as "proof that no amount of military force would ever deliver a stable, united, secure Afghanistan. ... What's happening now could just as easily happen five years ago or 15 years in the future."

Why it matters: The Biden administration has faced sharp criticism over its response to the rapid collapse of Afghanistan and the chaotic evacuation effort. Evacuation flights were suspended Monday after thousands of Afghans stormed a runway at the international airport in Kabul in attempts to flee the country.

  • At least seven people have been killed during the chaos at the airport, including several Afghans who plunged to their deaths after clinging on to a U.S. military jet that took off from the runway, according to AP.
  • Many Afghans who aided U.S. and coalition forces have yet to be evacuated from the country.

What he's saying: "This did unfold more quickly than we anticipated," Biden said, arguing that Afghan forces gave up and "we could not provide them with the will to fight for that future."

  • "We have made it clear to the Taliban. If they attack our personnel or disrupt our operation, the U.S. presence will be swift and the response will be swift and forceful." 
“How many more generations of America's daughters and sons would you have me send to fight Afghanistan's civil war when Afghan troops will not? How many more lives, American lives, is it worth, how many endless rows of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery?
I'm clear in my answer. I will not repeat the mistakes we've made in the past. The mistake of staying and fighting indefinitely in a conflict that is not in the national interest of the United States.”
— President Biden

The big picture: More than 300,000 Afghans have been internally displaced, according to the UN's International Organization for Migration. Scores of migrants are undertaking dangerous journeys to seek safety.

  • In June, roughly 40,000 people fled to neighboring Iran per week.
  • Afghans who aided U.S. and coalition forces have yet to be evacuated from the country.
  • The Biden administration is still making attempts to secure temporary housing in other countries for those who risk retaliation from the Taliban.

Go deeper

Sep 15, 2021 - World

Trump officials aim to turn GOP against Afghan refugees

Photo: Douglas P. DeFelice via Getty Images

A handful of former Trump officials are making a concerted effort to amass opposition to Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban, AP reports.

Why it matters: In media appearances, position papers and meetings with GOP lawmakers, they're crafting a narrative that hinges on the anti-immigrant sentiment that defined former President Trump's rise and overall discontent with the Biden administration's withdrawal from Afghanistan.

State Department partners with aid group welcoming Afghan refugees to U.S.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaking in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 14. Photo: Mandel Ngan-Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced Thursday that the State Department is partnering with Welcome.US, an aid group helping to welcome and support Afghan refugees who fled their country for the U.S.

Why it matters: The partnership is part of the Biden administration's Operation Allies Welcome, which involves the processing and resettlement of the more than 65,000 Afghans evacuated during the U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Swing voters' split feelings about Afghanistan

An Afghanistan flag waves in front of the U.S. Capitol on Aug. 28. Photo: Liz Lynch/Getty Images

Some swing voters say they're deeply disappointed with the execution of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Yes, but: They don't believe former President Trump would have handled it better than President Biden, and the issue is far less important to them than getting the pandemic under control.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!