U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his plan to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, at the White House, Washington, U.S., April 14, 2021.
U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks on his plan to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, at the White House, Washington, U.S., April 14, 2021. Andrew Harnik/Pool via REUTERS

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

President Joe Biden announced he will withdraw all remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20-year anniversary of the deadly terrorist attacks that drew the U.S. into its longest war. The Washington Post first reported news of the withdrawal.

“The U.S. cannot continue to pour resources into an intractable war and expect different results,” Biden said Wednesday from the White House. “I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth.” 

The withdrawal will not conclude before the May 1 deadline the Trump administration previously set with the Taliban under a peace agreement, according to a senior administration official.

The announcement came the same day U.S. intelligence agencies projected “low” chances of achieving a peace deal with Afghanistan anytime this year. The intelligence community said Afghanistan’s government would struggle to withstand Taliban insurgency if the U.S.-led coalition withdrew its support. Biden said the U.S. will continue to offer support by providing assistance to the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces and will continue humanitarian work in the country.

Reports showed roughly 2,500 American troops still remain in Afghanistan, but European and Afghan officials said the number is closer to 3,500, much higher than the U.S. originally disclosed. This number is still the lowest since 2001 when there were 98,000 U.S. troops in the country, according to the Department of Defense

Talks of a withdrawal immediately sparked debate among lawmakers. 

“I applaud President Biden for achieving an impossibility here in Washington: ending a forever war,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) said in a statement. “It is an act of extraordinary political courage and vision.”

Some Republican Party members called the decision premature and short-sighted and asked Biden to reconsider. 

“To say I’m concerned is a vast understatement — this is a reckless and dangerous decision,” Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) said. “Arbitrary deadlines would likely put our troops in danger, jeopardize all the progress we’ve made, and lead to civil war in Afghanistan — and create a breeding ground for international terrorists.”

The administration has defended the withdrawal amid backlash from both sides of the aisle, saying Biden arrived at this decision after “rigorous” policy review

“The war in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking,” Biden said.

MEDIA PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of articles showing different viewpoints on the topic.

Graham: ‘A full withdrawal from Afghanistan is dumber than dirt and devilishly dangerous’ – The Hill – 4/13/2021
“A residual counterterrorism force would be an insurance policy against the rise of radical Islam in Afghanistan that could pave the way for another attack against our homeland or our allies,” he continued. […] Experts and lawmakers have warned that leaving Afghanistan without a peace deal between the nation and the Taliban could lead to a civil war. Graham said the troops still in Afghanistan are “an insurance policy against another 9/11,” adding that “wars end when the threat is eliminated.”

Opinion | Why staying in Afghanistan is the least bad choice for Biden – The Washington Post – 3/8/2021
In weighing the United States’ options, the president certainly needs to bear in mind the costs of the current U.S. deployment — 2,500 U.S. troops out of a NATO-mission total of 9,000, perhaps $10 billion per year in expense to the U.S. taxpayers, and the prospect of perhaps 10 to 20 American casualties a year if the Taliban resumes its previous use of force against U.S. forces. But Biden also needs to form an expectation of what would likely happen after any NATO departure.

Concerns mount that US withdrawal from Afghanistan could risk progress on women’s rights – CNN
However, there are fears that if the US withdraws troops before the conditions on the ground are right — regardless of the date on the calendar — there will be a sharp and possibly catastrophic backslide. “Today women in Afghanistan have a very special place. They are stronger than ever and they have achieved what has never been achieved before: they cannot be ignored. They will not be ignored,” Fatima Gailani, an Afghan women’s rights activist and one of the four women on the Afghan government’s negotiating team, said at a recent congressional Women, Peace, and Security Caucus virtual discussion.

Biden CIA head William Burns says pulling out of Afghanistan will ‘diminish’ US intelligence – Fox News – 4/14/2021
Burns, appointed by Biden, said the U.S. presence in Afghanistan has kept groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS “in check.” “When the time comes for the U.S. military to withdraw, the U.S. government’s ability to collect and act on threats will diminish. That’s simply a fact,” Burns told the Senate Intelligence Committee in a worldwide threat hearing on Wednesday. “So all of that, to be honest, means that there is a significant risk once the U.S. military and the coalition militaries withdraw,” Burns said, though he added that the U.S. would retain a “suite of capabilities.” 

Will Afghanistan Become a Terrorism Safe Haven Once Again? – The New York Times – 4/14/2021
The answer is no, at least not right away. But over the longer term, the question is far more difficult to answer. The United States could find itself pulled back into Afghanistan much as it was in Iraq, some current and former officials warned. Intelligence officials have offered the Biden administration an overall grim portrait of the future of Afghanistan itself, predicting that the Taliban will make battlefield gains, Afghan government forces will struggle to hold territory and a peace deal between them is unlikely. The broad outlines of that assessment were made public in an intelligence report released on Tuesday.

‘The Pentagon is not making these decisions’: How Biden’s team overrode the brass on Afghanistan – Politico – 4/14/2021
But in the end, Biden and his top national security deputies did what no previous president has done successfully — they overrode the brass. “President Biden has made a judgment that those are manageable concerns and not as important as drawing American participation to an end, and so everybody shut up and did it,” said Kori Schake, the director of foreign and defense policy at the American Enterprise Institute. Asked during a visit to NATO on Wednesday whether the military supported the decision to withdraw, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the decision-making process was “inclusive.”

INFLUENCER PERSPECTIVE

This section includes an aggregation of tweets showing different viewpoints on the topic.

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