Joe Biden has officially announced that American troops will leave Afghanistan by September, ending the 20-year conflict. The pullout will miss the May 1 deadline the US agreed to in the peace treaty with the Taliban.
“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 on Wednesday afternoon. “I am now the fourth US president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.”
It is time to end America’s longest war. It is time for American troops to come home.
Biden said the “final withdrawal” will begin on May 1 – the deadline by which the US was supposed to complete the pullout under the terms of the 2020 Doha agreement between Washington and the Taliban – and end by September 11, at the latest.
Both the date of the withdrawal and the venue of the announcement were calculated to be symbolic. Biden spoke from the Treaty Room of the White House, the same place where President George W. Bush announced the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, following the September 11 terrorist attacks blamed on Al-Qaeda.
After the speech, Biden is scheduled to visit Arlington National Cemetery and pay his respects to soldiers who died in that war.
The announcement was previewed on Tuesday by a senior administration official, so it doesn’t come as a surprise. NATO members have already started drawing up plans for leaving as well, as they are dependent on US infrastructure and bases and could not stay in Afghanistan by themselves.