Blinken, the country’s top diplomat, said that successive administrations had spent billions of dollars training the Afghan security forces and proving them with world-class military equipment only to watch them rapidly surrender to the Taliban.
“The fact of the matter is we’ve seen that that force has been unable to defend the country,” Blinken told CNN.
“And that has happened more quickly than we anticipated.”
Blinken said that Biden had been boxed into a corner because the Trump administration signed a peace deal with the Taliban last year that required all US troops to be out of Afghanistan by May.
“[T]he idea that the status quo could have been maintained by keeping our forces there I think is simply wrong,” Blinken said.
“The fact of the matter is, had the President decided to keep forces in Afghanistan beyond May 1st, attacks would have resumed on our forces.”
Blinken rejected comparisons to the humiliating American withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975, which included airlifting US diplomatic staff from the roof of the US embassy in Saigon.
“This is not Saigon,” he said.
“We went to Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission, and that mission was to deal with the folks who attacked us on 9/11. And we have succeeded in that mission.”
Biden, who is on a working holiday at the presidential Camp David retreat, has not spoken publicly about Afghanistan since last Tuesday local time.
In a written statement on Sunday (AEST) Biden said: “One more year, or five more years, of US military presence would not have made a difference 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.”
Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney said that Biden “absolutely” bears responsibility for the Taliban takeover in Kabul, while also assigning blame to predecessor Donald Trump.
“This has been an epic failure across the board, one we’re going to pay for for years to come,” Cheney told the American ABC network.
“What we’re watching right now in Afghanistan is what happens when America withdraws from the world.
“So everybody who has been saying, ‘America needs to withdraw, America needs to retreat,’ we are getting a devastating, catastrophic real-time lesson in what that means.”