U.S. War in Afghanistan Will End by August 31, Biden Says

President Joe Biden delivers remarks on the administration’s continued drawdown efforts in Afghanistan in a speech from the East Room at the White House in Washington D.C., July 8, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Reuters)

President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan will come to end by August 31.

“We did not go to Afghanistan to nation build,” Biden said Thursday at the White House. 

“It’s up to the Afghans to make decisions about the future of their country,” Biden said.

The speech comes as the administration has attempted to frame the troop withdrawal as a decision that was made in light of the president’s conclusion that the conflict is an “unwinnable war” that “does not have a military solution”

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“How many more, how many more thousands of American daughters and sons are you willing to risk?” Biden said in response to calls for the U.S. to continue the military operation.

“I will not send another generation of Americans to war in Afghanistan, with no reasonable expectation of achieving a different outcome,” he added.

Biden said that while he does not trust the Taliban, he trusts the ability of the Afghan military to defend the government.

“They clearly have the capacity to keep the government in place, the question is will they come together, and will they do it,” he said, noting that the U.S. had trained and equipped 300,000 Afghan troops in the past 20 years. 

The announcement comes after the president announced in April the planned departure of U.S. forces.

Ahead of Biden’s remarks, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden administration officials expect an “uptick” in violence and greater turmoil as the United States’ withdrawal advances but argued that continuing U.S. military involvement would have led to an escalation of attacks on American troops.

“The question fundamentally facing him was after 20 years was he going to commit more American troops to a civil war in Afghanistan,” Psaki said.

On Thursday, Biden said it is “highly unlikely” that one government will control Afghanistan after the U.S. pullout. He called on the Afghan government to reach a deal with the Taliban.

The president said there is no “mission accomplished” moment as the U.S. mission reaches an end.

“The mission was accomplished in that we got Osama bin Laden and terrorism is not emanating from that part of the world,” he said.

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