President Biden on Wednesday night defended his decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, arguing that America has accomplished its goals in the 20-year “forever war.”
Speaking to a joint session of Congress, the president said the Afghanistan conflict was never meant to drag on for decades and pull multiple generations of U.S. troops into combat.
“Today we have service members serving in the same war zone as their parents once did. We have service members in Afghanistan who were not yet born on 9/11,” Mr. Biden said. “War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multi-generational undertaking of nation-building.”
Mr. Biden announced this month that the roughly 3,500 American forces still in the country will return home by the fall and nearly 10,000 NATO troops also in Afghanistan will follow suit.
Some military leaders and foreign policy analysts fear that without U.S. backing, the insurgent Taliban could quickly overrun the country and topple the fragile government in Kabul.
But the president suggested that it’s not America’s responsibility to prop up Afghanistan forever. And he said that the American military has met the mission laid out after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.
“We went to Afghanistan to get the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. And we said we would follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell to do it … And we delivered justice to bin Laden,” the president said.
As part of a deal it struck with former President Trump last year, the Taliban vowed to break ties with al Qaeda and not allow the terrorist group to ever again use Afghanistan as a home base.
But recent Defense Department and United Nations reports have found that members of the Taliban and al Qaeda still have working relationships, raising questions about whether terrorist groups will again thrive once the U.S. and NATO exit.