President Joe Biden has defended his decision to pull out of Afghanistan in a speech at the White House.
Biden said he “will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan”, after confirming his target of removing all US troops by September.
“Just one more year fighting in Afghanistan is not a solution, but a recipe for being there indefinitely,” Biden said.
Biden’s decision to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan after two decades was first announced in April, but yesterday’s speech is his most extensive commentary on the policy.
It comes a week after the U.S. military left Bagram Airfield, the epicentre of its war to oust the Taliban.
As the fourth US leader to oversee the conflict, Biden said “we did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build,” and insisted that remaining in Afghanistan indefinitely would be a risk to American lives.
A total of 2,448 Americans have been killed and 20,722 injured since the start of U.S. involvement in the conflict.
“The United States did what we went to do in Afghanistan: to get the terrorists who attacked us on 9:11 and to deliver justice to Osama bin Laden," he said. “We achieved those objectives.”
'Thank you for your service'
According to an Ipsos poll from April, a majority of Americans support Biden’s decision to move troops out of Afghanistan. Only 28% of adults agreed that the U.S. accomplished its goals there, and 43% said the U.S. withdrawal now will help al Qaeda.
He later addressed the Afghan SIV applicants who are choosing to leave their home country for the US, stating “there is a home for you in the United States if you so choose”.
The president concluded the speech by thanking the US troops who served in Afghanistan and remembering those who died, saying “ensuring there hasn’t been another attack on the homeland from Afghanistan for the last 20 years, taking out Bin Laden, I want to thank you all for your service, and the dedication to the mission.”
While Biden stressed that “Afghans must decide their own future”, it comes at a time where the Taliban retains a stronghold over the country. Biden stated.
According to AFP, the Taliban says they control 85% of Afghanistan, and Moscow says the Taliban’s reach stretches to nearly two-thirds of the border with Tajikistan.