President Joe Biden
stated on Thursday that he will meet his goal of ending America
's 20-year military
campaign in Afghanistan
, the country's longest war, by Aug. 31.
When US forces and equipment are fully withdrawn, Biden will have dramatically shifted US foreign policy
, thrilling war skeptics, shifting nearly all Democrats
to a vocal group of conservatives
, and making good on a promise made by the two presidents before him.
“We did not go there to build a nation,” Biden said, adding that the Afghan people
have the right and responsibility to decide how they want to be governed.
However, the costs of withdrawal are becoming more obvious.
, the militant group that the United States
ousted from power in Kabul
in 2001 for its role in the 9/11 terror attacks, is rapidly gaining ground against Afghanistan's pro-US government. The insurgents, whose hardline interpretation of Islam
severely restricts human rights
, particularly for women
, have besieged major provincial capitals and show little interest in negotiations to shah the Taliban.
Afghan officials are desperate for the Biden administration
to confirm that it will not abandon them and to signal an ongoing interest in their country's stability, and humanitarian groups are warning that a further escalation in fighting could result in major bloodshed. Meanwhile, Republican
lawmakers such as Sens. Mitch McConnell
(Ky.) and Lindsey Graham
(S.C.) argue that withdrawing will enable them to retake control of Afghanistan.
In his remarks, Biden sought to allay those fears, saying that the change in course was long overdue and that moving
quickly to reduce the US presence was the safest way to do so.
During a joint session of Congress
on September 20, 2001, then-President George W. Bush stated, "Whether we bring our enemies to justice or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done."
To ensure that the Taliban did not retake power, the Bush administration and US allies set about remaking Afghanistan as a pro-Western democracy
, a project that lasted nearly five presidential terms.
Biden laid out plans to end the military presence in Afghanistan nineteen years and ten months later, one floor down and a dozen paces north of the room where Bush announced the start of the war.