WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden says the Sept. 11 attacks “cannot explain” why U.S. forces should remain in Afghanistan 20 years later and that “it is time for American troops to come home” from the country’s longest war.
Biden, in excerpts of a speech to the nation he plans later Wednesday, says the U.S. cannot continue to pour resources into an intractable war and expect different results. The White House released the excerpts before the afternoon address when he intends to detail his timeline for a U.S. troop withdrawal.
His plan is to pull out all the American forces — numbering 2,500 now — by this Sept. 11, according to U.S. officials, marking the 20th anniversary of the deadliest terrorist attacks against America, which were coordinated from Afghanistan. The drawdown would begin by May 1, defying the deadline for full withdrawal under a peace agreement the Trump administration reached with the Taliban last year.
“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result,” Biden says in the speech excerpts. “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.”
While Biden’s decision keeps U.S. forces in Afghanistan four months longer than initially planned, it sets a firm end to two decades of war that killed more than 2,200 U.S. troops, wounded 20,000, and cost as much as $1 trillion.