Watch Live: President Biden Delivers Remarks on Afghanistan

Former Vice President Joe Biden August 13th, 2020. Photo by Adam Schultz/ Biden for President.

On Tuesday as the News Blender reported President Biden will announce on Wednesday, a way forward on removing U.S., troops from Afghanistan. The Washington Post was the first to report the announcement.

Ahead of the announcement the White House held a background press call by a Senior Administration Official on Afghanistan. According to the official the Administration plans to have all U.S., troops and collation forces removed from Afghanistan before September 11th, 2021, which will be the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks carried out on our country in 2001.

After a rigorous policy review, President Biden has decided to draw down the remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan and finally end the U.S. war there after 20 years.  We will begin an orderly drawdown of the remaining forces before May 1st and plan to have all U.S. troops out of the country before the 20th anniversary of 9/11. 

White 04/13/2021.

The official goes on to say:

The President made the determination and is announcing tomorrow that the best path forward to advance American interests is to end the war in Afghanistan after 20 years so that we can address the global threat picture as it exists today, not as it was two decades ago.

We’ve long known that military force would not solve Afghanistan’s internal political challenges, would not end Afghanistan’s internal conflict.  And so we are ending our military operations while we focus our efforts on supporting, diplomatically, the ongoing peace process.

White 04/13/2021.

The official goes on to say that after a review of the May 1st, 2021 date as complete withdrawal from the region inherited from the last administration that what has emerged is a “clear-eyed assessment of the best path forward.”

The President and his team consulted with his Cabinet, members of Congress, the Afghan government, NATO Allies, partners who are still serving alongside the United States in Afghanistan, as well as other donor nations, regional powers, and former officials from both parties here in the United States.

What emerged was a clear-eyed assessment of the best path forward.  We have, as I said before, long known that there is no military solution to the problems plaguing Afghanistan, and we will focus our efforts on supporting the ongoing peace process.  And that means putting the full weight of our government behind diplomatic efforts to reach a peace agreement between the Taliban and the Afghan government.  But what we will not do is use our troops as bargaining chips in that process.

White 04/13/2021.

Asked about the September 11th, 2021 date being conditions-based or a hard target date the senior official said; This is not conditions-based.  The President has judged that a conditions-based approach, which has been the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever. And so he has reached the conclusion that United States will complete its drawdown, will remove its forces from Afghanistan before September 11th.  And I would hasten to note, for those on the call, that a lot of this is about operational and logistical issues related to ensuring that we have a safe and orderly withdrawal. That withdrawal may be completed well in advance of September 11th.  But that is the outside date by which it will be completed.  And, as I said, it will begin before May 1.  It will be completed over the course of that next period and no later than the 20th anniversary of 9/11, but potentially a meaningful amount of time before then. 

He was asked about 9/11 date again.

Q: I’d like to go back to the timeline.  One of the criticisms of the previous administration was that a May 1st deadline was arbitrary.  I’d like to know why a September one isn’t arbitrary, given that, practically speaking, you could withdraw well before that. And what concerns do you have about increased violence against U.S. troops in that period?  One of the threats from the Taliban had been that, had the troops stayed beyond out May 1st, there could be potential violence against them. I guess what I’m trying to clarify: Is the September deadline because helping NATO troops get out?  Is it because U.S. troops could get out far faster than that?  And what security measures would be in place for U.S. forces in that period when the Taliban has threatened increased violence?  Thank you.

Senior White House Official: The answer is — the answer is “yes” to the question about NATO forces.  Basically, President Biden has — will give our military commanders the time and space they need to conduct a safe and orderly withdrawal, not just of U.S. forces but of allied forces, as well, on the principle of “in together, out together.”  And so, we will take the time we need to execute that, and no more time than that.  We believe that we certainly can complete that before September.  And the question of “how long before September” depends on, you know, conditions as the — as the drawdown unfolds. So that’s why I said there’s not — there’s not actually a date on the calendar for when we can guarantee you the last trip will be out, other than, you know, an outside — you know, it will be no later than the 20th anniversary of 9/11, meaning it could be, as I said before, well before then. So it’s not arbitrary; it is what is required, in the judgment of our military commanders, to get not just U.S. forces safely drawn down, but to get our partners and allies safely drawn down as well.  We have communicated to the Taliban in no uncertain terms that if they do conduct attacks against U.S. or allied forces as we carry out this drawdown — which, again, as I indicated, will begin before May 1 — that we will hit back hard and that we will hold them accountable for that.  And so, we believe we can execute this in an effective way and intend to do so.

White House Deputy Communications Director Kate Berner tweeted this morning an excerpt from President Biden’s remarks.

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