The U.S. initially sought to fight terrorism in its invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, but later switched focused to "restoring democracy."
In a speech in the White House on August 16., President Joe Biden expressed his position on the collapse of the Afghan government, as the Taliban entered the capital of Kabul. Biden suggested that criticism on the U.S. for the collapse of the Afghan government was unwarranted, as it had fulfilled its objective of countering terrorism as a response to 9/11.
"Our mission in Afghanistan was never supposed to have been nation-building. It was never supposed to be creating a unified, centralized democracy. Our only vital national interest in Afghanistan remains today what it has always been: preventing a terrorist attack on American homeland,' he said.
Early transcripts of speeches from former President George W Bush show that the U.S. did indeed state that countering terrorism was the overarching justification for its invasion of Afghanistan. "We are at the beginning of our efforts in Afghanistan, and Afghanistan is only the beginning of our efforts in the world. No group or nation should mistake Americans' intentions: Where terrorist groups exist of global reach, the United States and our friends and allies will seek it out and we will destroy it."
This rhetoric later changed, however, as the government frequently focused on the advancement of human rights in the country and attempts to introduce a new system. "The world and the United States stand with [the people of Afghanistan] as partners in their quest for peace and prosperity and stability and democracy," Bush told President Karzai of Afghanistan, in The Rose Garden, Washington, D.C. in 2004.
Bush also frequently referenced the advancement of women and girls in education and employment. For example, he credited "the United States and our coalition of liberators" for ensuring Afghan girls returned to schools.
It is true that the United States set out to target terrorism when it announced its decision to invade Afghanistan in 2001. However, Bush and subsequent governments frequently referenced democracy in Afghanistan and furthering human rights as an achievement and mission from the U.S. government. It is misleading to state that the U.S. did not focus on democracy or "nation building."