My1sttoday — President Biden: U.S troops will leave Afghanistan by September 11: ‘It’s time to end America’s longest war’.
President Joe Biden formally announced his decision to end America’s longest war on Wednesday, deeming the prolonged and intractable conflict in Afghanistan no longer aligned with American priorities.
Biden said he would withdraw US troops from Afghanistan before September 11, the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon that launched the war in the first place.
Those origins had long given way to other objectives, and Biden declared Wednesday that no amount of time or money could solve the problems his three predecessors had tried and failed to fix.
“War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking,” Biden said during his remarks from the White House Treaty Room, the same location from which President George W. Bush had announced the war was beginning in October 2001.
“We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives,” Biden went on. “Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is degraded in Afghanistan and it’s time to end the forever war.”
It was a decisive moment for a President not yet 100 days into the job. Biden has spent months weighing his decision, and he determined a war in Afghanistan that has killed some 2,300 US troops and cost more than $2 trillion no longer fit within the pressing foreign policy concerns of 2021.
The deadline Biden has set is absolute, with no potential for extension based on worsening conditions on the ground. Officials said that after two decades of war, it was clear to the President that throwing more time and money at Afghanistan’s problems wasn’t going to work, even as senior military and national security advisers cautioned against a full withdrawal.
“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” Biden said.
“I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats,” he went on. “I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”
Biden said the withdrawal will begin on May 1, in line with an agreement President Donald Trump’s administration made with the Taliban. Some US troops will remain to protect American diplomats, though officials have declined to provide a precise number.
Biden said American diplomatic and humanitarian efforts would continue in Afghanistan and that the US would support peace efforts between the Afghan government and the Taliban. But he was unequivocal that two decades after it began, the Afghanistan War is ending.
“It is time to end America’s longest war. It is time for American troops to come home,” he said in his speech”.
Afterward, as he was visiting the section of Arlington National Cemetery where war dead from Afghanistan are buried, Biden was asked whether his decision had been hard to make.
“No, it wasn’t,” he said. “To me it was absolutely clear.”
Both of Biden’s most recent predecessors sought to end the war in Afghanistan, only to be drawn back in by devolving security and attempts to prop up the government. Biden made a different calculation that the US and the world must simply move on.
The White House selected the Treaty Room specifically to provide a bookend to the two-decade-long conflict, which began before some of the Americans currently deployed in Afghanistan were born. Biden said he had spoken with Bush on Tuesday ahead of announcing his decision to withdraw troops.
“While he and I have had many disagreements over policy throughout the years, we are absolutely united in our respect and support for the valor, courage and integrity of the women and men of the United States forces who’ve served,” Biden said.
He also spoke with Obama, with whom he sometimes disagreed over Afghanistan policy when serving as vice president. In a statement, Obama said Biden had made the right decision.
“After nearly two decades of putting our troops in harm’s way, it is time to recognize that we have accomplished all that we can militarily, and that it’s time to bring our remaining troops home,” he wrote.
After decades of Afghanistan-focused national security meetings and decisions, Biden’s foreign policy priorities now lie elsewhere: in Asia, where he hopes to compete with China, and in Russia, whose President he spoke with Tuesday and proposed an upcoming summit.
“We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago. That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021,” Biden said. “Rather than return to war with the Taliban, we have to focus on the challenges that are in front of us.”