President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he will begin withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan, rejecting calls for American forces to stay longer in order to ensure a peaceful resolution to that nation’s internal conflict, reports Reuters.
The US will continue to support Afghanistan after withdrawing all US troops, but not “militarily,” Biden pledged. “It is time to end America’s longest war.”
After two decades, troops have an end date. But it took a White House ready to pull rank on the military, says Politico.
The Pentagon spent more than a decade urging three different American presidents to stay in Afghanistan. With Biden’s decision this week to withdraw all US forces by 9/11, they finally lost the battle.
“We cannot continue this cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create ideal conditions for the withdrawal and expecting a different result,” Biden said on Wednesday.
“I’m now the fourth US president to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.”
However, top military leaders still argued for keeping a small presence on the ground to keep the Taliban in check and prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a haven for terrorists, Politico reports.
Kori Schake, director of foreign and defence policy at the American Enterprise Institute said, “President Biden has made a judgment that those are manageable concerns and not as important as drawing American participation to an end.
“Everybody knows that the president has every right in the world to overrule the military recommendations he gets,” she continued. “The military absolutely knows, respects and subordinates themselves to that. It’s not what they wanted and the president made a different decision – welcome to democracy in America.”
Asked by the BBC during a visit to Nato on Wednesday whether the military supported the decision to withdraw, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the decision-making process had been “inclusive”.
He said the generals’ opinions were heard and their concerns taken into consideration and then the president made his decision and it is now up to the military to carry that decision out.