Saying he will not send “another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan,” President Biden says U.S. troops will withdraw completely by August 31, earlier than the previously stated final withdrawal date of September 11.
Noting that there have been no U.S. military casualties since the withdrawal began, Biden touted U.S. achievements in the beleaguered nation.
“The United States did what we went to do in Afghanistan — to get the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and to deliver justice to Osama bin Laden. We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build.”
However, White House press secretary Jen Psaki seemed to contradict Biden’s assertions that we “did what we went to do,” telling reporters, “It’s a 20-year war that has not been won militarily.”
Psaki further explained that the U.S. would not have a “mission accomplished moment.“
Biden said by killing Osama bin Laden and preventing any further attacks, the U.S. had “accomplished” its primary goal.
Despite loud cries from some GOP politicians to remain in Afghanistan as the Taliban continues to restrengthen, it is the “right and responsibility” of the Afghan people to decide how their country will protect the nation’s sovereignty and function effectively, Biden said.
The United States will continue to provide air support for the Afghani military and offer assistance with women’s rights, civilian, and humanitarian issues.
However, Biden stands behind the decision to withdraw. “How many thousands more of America’s daughters and sons are you willing to risk? How long would you have them stay?” he told reporters.
“Staying would have meant U.S. troops taking casualties.”
During the two decades of war in Afghanistan, the United States’ longest-running conflict, more than 2,400 American deaths occurred, and nearly 21,000 soldiers were wounded.
During the years, American troops trained more than 300,000 Afghan security forces and military members to defend against the threat of the Taliban.
Despite an attempted peace deal and intensive training of Afghan forces, the Taliban is estimated to have gained control in at least 50 of the 370 districts in Afghanistan.
The president is nevertheless a longtime skeptic of the war. Despite rapidly increasing pressure from military leaders, members of Congress, and others to continue a troop presence, the administration is moving forward with the withdrawal, arguing that nothing can be achieved by remaining.
The hasty drawdown of U.S. forces has coincided with significant Taliban gains in power, increasing fears that the Afghan government will collapse or civil war will erupt without US military support.
Biden rejected, however, comparisons with the withdrawal of troops from Vietnam at the end of the war, saying that there was “no circumstance in which you are going to see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan.”
Biden said the pace the Taliban has regained power in recent weeks solidifies his decision to withdraw.
“The current security situation only confirms that just one more year fighting in Afghanistan is not a solution, but a recipe for being there indefinitely,” he said.