WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: President Biden addresses Afghanistan withdrawal

President Biden on Thursday delivered remarks on his decision to bring American troops home, ending the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan on August 31 after more than 20 years of fighting.

The President has said, “we did what we went to Afghanistan to do. We got the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. We delivered justice to Osama Bin Laden. And, we degraded al Qaeda’s capacity to the point they do not present an active threat to our homeland.”

In his speech, President Biden emphasized his commitment to doing right by those Afghans who worked alongside U.S. forces, including by standing up an operation to physically relocate these individuals and their families so that they can live safely outside of Afghanistan while their Special Immigrant Visas are processed.
 
The president’s remarks were met with praise and support from veterans, advocates, government officials, national security officials and community leaders across the country.
 
See below for what they are saying:
 
 
Members of Congress
 
Representative Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee: “After nearly twenty years of war in Afghanistan we have successfully prevented transnational terrorists from planning and launching an attack from the region. Therefore, it is time to withdraw our military forces and thanks to the leadership of President Biden our troops are finally coming home. As we mark this critical step toward the end of our country’s longest war, we also honor the service and the sacrifices made by our service members and their families.” [Full Statement, 7/8/2021]   
 
Representative John Garamendi: “The American people are ready to end the 20-year war in Afghanistan, and President Biden is doing so in a safe and responsible way. I support this action and am also determined to support the Afghan interpreters who have supported U.S. forces throughout the war.” [Tweet, 7/8/2021]
 
Representative Barbara Lee: “Let’s be clear: there has never been, nor will there ever be a military solution in Afghanistan. Thank you, @POTUS, for keeping your promise. This is a crucial step toward ending our forever wars.” [Tweet, 7/8/2021]
 
Representative Colin Allred: “@POTUS is right. While we must support the people of Afghanistan through humanitarian and diplomatic efforts, their problems cannot be solved militarily or by putting another generation of American service members at risk.” [Tweet, 7/8/2021]
 
Representative Veronica Escobar: “I’m pleased to hear @POTUS’ clear deadline to withdraw our servicemembers from Afghanistan and reinforce America’s continued support for Afghan women, families, and vulnerable populations. It’s time to bring our troops home and use diplomacy to achieve peace and stability.” [Tweet, 7/8/2021]
 
Progressive Caucus: “We commend @POTUS for fulfilling his commitment to ending the longest war in American history, making it clear that there is no military solution in Afghanistan.” [Tweet, 7/8/2021]
 
 
 
Advocacy Groups
 
Concerned Veterans for America: “We applaud President Biden for continuing to follow through with the promised withdrawal from Afghanistan. Extricating the United States from the long-running and continued civil conflict in Afghanistan not only keeps our troops out of the way of unnecessary harm, but it also puts the future of Afghanistan in the hands of the Afghan people. The president’s decision is in the best interests of the United States and the American people.” [Full Statement, 7/8/2021]
 
Win Without War: “Ending the U.S. occupation and withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan is the right decision today, the right decision a year ago, and the right decision 10 years ago. Two decades of U.S. war and occupation did not and will not bring peace to Afghanistan. The recent uptick in violence does not change that, but rather makes robust, coordinated diplomacy to deescalate the situation all the more urgent.
 
For twenty years, the United States has been at war in Afghanistan. For twenty years, proponents of endless war have claimed that if we could just stay a little longer, if we could only drop a few more bombs, we may finally ‘win.’ But twenty years of experience have proven that to be an utter fallacy. And twenty years of experience have proven to people in the United States – across party lines, generations, and communities – that endless war is not the solution, but the problem.
 
There is simply no military solution to what is now a four decades-long conflict and the president’s follow through on his promise to withdraw reflects that reality. Diplomatic negotiations, transitional justice, and peacebuilding are the only tools that will bring us any closer to peace in Afghanistan.” [Full Statement, 7/8/2021]
 
Mary Kaszynski, Vote Vets: “The long-overdue end of the Afghanistan War is finally here. Too many of our troops gave too much to extend a mission that was completed well over a decade ago – that is decimating the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11. Mission creep turned that anti-terror mission into a nation-building mission. This mission could have lasted forever, literally, unless a Commander in Chief stepped in who had the spine to end it. Joe Biden is that president, and he’s to be commended for standing up to too many in Congress and the National Security community who would pour money and lives into Afghanistan, ad infinitum.
 
We also very much appreciate the urgency President Biden sees in bringing interpreters to safety. They have put their lives, and their families’ lives, on the line for our country. They’ve earned the safety and security that the United States can provide…” [Full Statement, 7/8/2021]
 
Trita Parsi, Quincy Institute: “Important to note that none of those attacking @JoeBiden for the courageous decision to finally end America’s longest war have provided any alternative solutions that actually ends the war. Asking for just another 12 months is how we ended up with a 20-year long war!” [Tweet, 7/8/2021]
 
William Ruger, Charles Koch Institute: “@POTUS just crushed it: “Up to people of Afghanistan” [Tweet, 7/8/2021]
 
 
Commentators
 
Ben Rhodes, Pod Save the World: “I think the most important element of President Biden’s decision is he’s not kind of conditioning a return of U.S. military forces based on the state of Afghanistan. He’s saying we’re leaving. …so this is really a decisive shift away from the U.S. using the military as the principle means of the policy to effect this. He is saying clearly the days are over.” [Unlinked MSNBC Interview, 7/8/2021]
 
Ed O’Keefe, CBS News: “Through this Q&A we’re seeing @POTUS’s clear confidence in withdrawing from Afghanistan. He’s confident in Afghan military’s capabilities; in idea that the original mission is over; that the world has moved on to new threats. He clearly debated all this with military leaders.” [Tweet, 7/8/2021]
 
Fareed Zakaria, Washington Post: “The truth is, since 9/11, Washington and most advanced governments have developed a powerful capacity to intercept terrorists, track them down and prevent them from launching large-scale attacks. Groups such as al-Qaeda and the Islamic State are in tatters, hunted everywhere and fragmented into local forces. They operate in various unstable countries, such as Afghanistan, Mali and Yemen. This is an argument for global counterterrorism efforts, not the sustained occupation of any one particular place.” [Column, 7/8/21]
 
Jeremy Bash, MSNBC: “I think President Biden made a gutsy call. He leveled with the American people, and he said, “We can protect our homeland, and we can attack al-Qaeda with an over the horizon force.” I think that is absolutely critical because if you look at the recent intelligence assessments from our intelligence community, there was one sentence devoted to al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. There are other threats that we have to deal with, and it would be a dereliction of duty – it would violate everything we all stand for and care about – if we weren’t in position and postured against those threats.” [Deadline Interview, 7/8/21]

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