President Joe Biden vowed Wednesday that no U.S. troops will be in Afghanistan by Sept. 11.
Biden delayed the withdrawal past former President Donald Trump’s May 1 deadline.
Trump had negotiated the May 1 deadline with the Taliban in early 2020, but Biden says that timetable is unrealistic. He says, however, that his plan for the pullout of all U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan by this fall is not conditions-based, meaning U.S. troops will leave regardless of any escalations from the Taliban or other factions. The U.S. has been at war in the Middle East for roughly 20 years and the conflict has for years been very unpopular among most Americans. (RELATED: Biden To Extend Deadline For Full Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal From May To Sept. 11, 2021)
“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. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.”
“We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago. That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021. Rather than return to war with the Taliban, we have to focus on the challenges that will determine our standing and reach today and into the years to come,” he added.
Biden said America’s original objectives of bringing Osama Bin Laden to justice and ensuring that Afghanistan couldn’t “be used as a base to attack America” have been achieved. Biden also warned the Taliban that if they attack during the U.S. withdrawal, he will respond with “all the tools at our disposal.”
Some have criticized the total withdrawal as premature and reckless, arguing the Taliban will quickly take over Afghanistan and sponsor terrorism across the globe. (RELATED: FLASHBACK: Biden Says US Troops Will Be Out Of Afghanistan By 2014)
“To be honest, I’m not in that much of a hurry right now. We’ve got roughly 2,500 troops over there. And I’m fine with them being there for an extended period of time,” Republican Alabama Rep. Mike Rogers, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, told reporters in March. “Until they start getting some real confidence that the Taliban is going to hold up their end of the bargain, I don’t see how we get out.”
White House press secretary Jen Psaki responded to the criticism Wednesday, saying the administration expects the Taliban to abide by its agreements once U.S. forces are gone because it is in their interest to ensure Afghanistan does not become a “pariah state.”