President announces withdrawal of all troops by 9/11
President Joe Biden formally announced Wednesday morning that he will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021.
The exit date marks the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center, which began the United States’ longest war in history, the War on Terror.
“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,” the president announced from the White House Treaty Room, where President George W. Bush announced the start of the war on Oct. 7, 2001. “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.”
He added that “diplomacy does not hinge on having boots in harm’s way.”
There are officially 2,500 troops in Afghanistan currently, but the fluctuating number is more like 3,500. There are 7,000 additional troops in the coalition, the majority of which are NATO troops, according to national media reports.
This decision will keep thousands of U.S. forces in Afghanistan beyond the Trump administration’s May 1 exit deadline that the former president negotiated last year with the Taliban.
America’s longest war has cost the lives of more than 2,000 U.S. service members and trillions of U.S. dollars. In addition, at least 100,000 Afghan civilians have been killed or injured, the Washington Post reported.
U.S. Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara, praised the commander-in-chief’s announcement.
“Half the service members who have been killed in the war in Afghanistan were children when Sept. 11 devastated our country,” he said in a statement to the News-Press. “Our service members have acted bravely and honorably to carry out their mission in Afghanistan, advancing stability and freedom in large parts of the country. I’m thankful for the service and sacrifice of our service members and their families.
“Keeping thousands of troops in the country has not resolved the conflict, so I believe President Biden’s decision to end our involvement in this forever war and bring our troops home with a thoughtful, strategic and responsible plan is the right one.”
The congressman added, “It is crucial that we remain engaged through diplomatic channels, which President Biden has said is his intention.”
Jim Worthen, a Santa Barbara resident and former aide to the late congressman Robert Lagomarsino, expressed skepticism of the announcement, pointing out former President Donald Trump’s deadline.
“We can only pray that the difference between May and September doesn’t cause more American casualties,” he told the News-Press. “The internationalists always find an excuse to keep us involved in foreign entanglements … I don’t trust the elite in Washington to disentangle us.”
President Biden said in his press conference that American diplomatic and humanitarian efforts will continue in Afghanistan and support peace efforts between its government and the Taliban, but made clear that the war is ending.
“It is time to end America’s longest war,” he said. “It is time for American troops to come home.”