President Biden said it is “time to end America’s longest war” in a speech on the Afghanistan War delivered on Wednesday.
The September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon “cannot explain” why U.S. forces should remain in Afghanistan 20 years later, Biden said in his remarks.
“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 added. “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.”
Biden decided to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by September 11 of this year, bypassing the May 1 withdrawal deadline set by the Trump administration. Officially, there are currently 2,500 American soldiers in the country, however the actual total is roughly 3,500, the Washington Post reported. Roughly 7,000 soldiers from other nations, most of them NATO members, are also stationed in the country.
The decision drew a mixed reaction from lawmakers. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.) said she was “very disappointed” with the decision, while Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.) called the decision “dumber than dirt and devilishly dangerous.”
Freshman Representative Peter Meijer (R., Mich.), an Iraq War veteran who worked for a conflict-analysis NGO in Afghanistan, backed the proposed withdrawal.
“For two decades we have believed in our own propaganda that victory was in sight, about us turning the corner, etc while thousands of American service members and tens of thousands of Afghan civilians died. That status quo, ‘steady as she goes’ approach will only bring more death and despair,” Meijer said in a statement.