In discussing his order to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan, US President Joe Biden said on Wednesday that the withdrawal will not endanger national security but will demonstrate “American leadership” by halting the cycle of endless armed conflict.
“American leadership means ending the forever war in Afghanistan,” Biden said. “We have, without hyperbole, the greatest fighting force in the history of the world. I am the first president in 40 years who knows what it means to have a son serving in the war zone.”
He said that war in Afghanistan was never meant to be multigenerational. “We wanted to get terrorists who attacked on 9/11 and we said we would follow some of them to the gates of hell to do it,” he said in his first formal speech to lawmakers.
“And we delivered justice to bin Laden. We degraded the terrorist threat of al Qaeda and Afghanistan, and after 20 years of valor and sacrifice, it is time to bring those troops home,” he mentioned.
Biden this month announced all US forces would quit Afghanistan by September 11.
He also said that: “Even as we maintain the right to capacity to suppress threats to the homeland, make no mistake — in 20 years, terrorism has metastasized.”
The announcement of the US and NATO forces withdrawal from the country has been accompanied with huge concerns over the return of a potential civil war in Afghanistan as well as the regrowth of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups.
But Biden hinted that the threat of al-Qaeda should be dealt with in other places rather than Afghanistan.
“Al Qaeda and Daesh are in Syria, Somalia, other places in Africa, and the Middle East,” Biden said.
Meanwhile, Gen. Mark Milley, the US military's top officer, on Wednesday outlined a “worst-case” scenario in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of foreign troops and warned of a potential civil war and return of Al Qaeda.
“Tough situation, no good answers to any of it,” Gen Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said at the Sedona Forum, hosted by the McCain Institute.
“[In] the worst-case analysis, you have a potential collapse of the government, a potential collapse of the military, you have civil war, you have all the humanitarian catastrophe that goes with it and the potential for the return of Al Qaeda sometime down the road,” Gen Milley said as quoted by The National.
He added that such an outcome was not a “forgone conclusion,” pointing to the possibility of a deal between the Afghan government and the Taliban.
He said that the United States will “continue to support diplomatic efforts to bring a negotiating outcome between the insurgents and the regime and that would be best for the people of Afghanistan and best for the region.”
Asked if the Pentagon would have preferred to leave a residual force in Afghanistan, Milley said the military only offers recommendations to the president.
“We are not advocates. So we present courses of actions … the president is the decision-maker,” he said as quoted The National.