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‘It’s Time to End the Forever War’: Biden Announces Withdrawal from Afghanistan

As for the idea that U.S. troops on the ground would produce a solution: “We gave that argument a decade.”

President Joe Biden affirmed that all U.S. forces would depart Afghanistan before Sept. 11 of this year, saying in a Wednesday address to the nation that  “it's time to end the forever war.”

“We went to Afghanistan because of a horrific attack that happened 20 years ago,” Biden said. “That cannot explain why we should remain there in 2021.” 

Under the terms of the Doha agreement negotiated under former President Donald Trump, all U.S. forces were to depart Afghanistan by May 1.

But it has become clear that the complexity of withdrawing U.S. and other NATO forces and equipment will not allow that deadline to be met. 

While a final drawdown will have begun by that date, Biden said, the U.S. “will not conduct a hasty rush to the exit.”

“We'll do it responsibly, deliberately and safely. And we will do it in full coordination with our allies and partners who now have more forces in Afghanistan than we do,” he said. 

Biden said during his deliberations, his “North Star” was his late son — Delaware Army National Guard Maj. Beau Biden — who deployed to Balad, Iraq, in November 2008, just days after his father was elected vice president in the Obama administration. 

“I’m the first president in 40 years who knows what it means to have a child serving in a war zone,” Biden said. 

Beau Biden died in 2015 at the age of 46 of brain cancer. 

President Biden said his predecessors had mulled ending military operations in Afghanistan, but always concluded that the time was not right. In his own deliberations, he could not further justify reasons to stay. 

“I know there are many who will loudly insist that diplomacy cannot succeed without a robust U.S. military presence to stand as leverage. We gave that argument a decade. It’s never proved effective. Not when we had 98,000 troops in Afghanistan and not when we were down to a few thousand.”

Biden said withdrawal was also necessary to shape the U.S. military for future potential conflicts and invest in the capabilities and technologies it will need to match a rising China. 

“We'll be much more formidable adversaries and competitors over the long term if we fight the battles for the next 20 years, not the last one,” Biden said. 

Following his remarks, the president visited Section 60 of Arlington National Cemetery where forces killed in the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars are buried.