President Joe Biden plans to pull all military forces out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, ending U.S. presence in the Middle Eastern nation by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that spurred America’s longest war.
The move will extend military presence in Afghanistan beyond the May 1 withdrawal date previously negotiated by former President Donald Trump.
Concluding there is “no military solution” for Afghanistan’s problems, Biden will instead work to put the “full weight” of the U.S. government behind diplomatic efforts to reach a peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government, a senior administration official said.
“But what we will not do is use our troops as bargaining chips in that process,” said the official, who agreed to discuss the plans Tuesday on the condition of anonymity.
Biden will formally announce the withdrawal and additional specifics in a White House speech Wednesday detailing “the way forward in Afghanistan,” press secretary Jen Psaki said.
Al-Qaeda no longer possesses the capability to plot an attack that would threaten U.S. soil, the White House said, insisting Biden isn’t taking an eye off terrorism. The administration instead views the terrorism threat more broadly – spanning to other countries and regions like Yemen, Syria, Somalia and Northern Africa – and not concentrated in Afghanistan like 20 years ago.
The White House said Biden would also seek “diplomatic, economic and humanitarian tools” with other countries to protect recent civil rights gained by Afghan women.
But he expressed concerns about leaving Afghanistan before achieving America’s objectives after “so much blood and national treasure.”
“I want to hear the administration’s rationale for it. I think the view is we don’t have enough troops there to change the tide and make some dramatic difference. So if we’re not going to do that, then why keep the troops that are there and put them at risk?”
Biden consulted with his Cabinet, Congress members, the Afghan government, NATO allies and other global partners before making the decision, the White House said.
Biden had faced increasing pressure on whether to stick to Trump’s May 1 deadline to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan entirely.