In announcing plans in April for U.S. troops to leave Afghanistan, President Joe Biden said that as the fourth president to preside over the war, he was not willing to pass the conflict off to a fifth. He said at the time that the U.S. “cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, and expecting a different result.”
President Biden again defended the rapid withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan on Thursday as the country appeared increasingly at risk of spiraling into civil war, announcing the U.S. military mission there will conclude on August 31st, earlier than initially announced.
“We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build,” President Biden said in a speech at the White House. “It’s the right and the responsibility of the Afghan people alone to decide their future and how they want to run their country.”
The Taliban has been making significant territorial gains in northern Afghanistan in recent days and are inching closer to the capital, Kabul. While Biden said in April that the U.S. would leave the country by Sept. 11, the vast majority of U.S. troops have already left and the U.S. has faced accusations from the Afghan troops that they were taken by surprise by the stealthy American departure in recent days.
Biden pledges to evacuate Afghan interpreters and their families who have worked alongside American troops in Afghanistan, adding there is a home for them in the U.S. and pledging to accelerate the Special Immigrant Visa process. Via our @AlliemalCNN
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) July 8, 2021
“Nearly 20 years of experience has shown us and the current security situation only confirms that just one more year of fighting in Afghanistan is not a solution,” President Biden said. The President also re-committed to evacuating thousands of Afghan translators and their families who worked alongside the U.S. as soon as possible, saying that the timeline for processing special immigrant visas had been “dramatically accelerated.” And he said the United States would continue to provide support for civilian and humanitarian assistance, including speaking out for the rights of women and girls.
Reporter: "Mr. President, if this isn't a mission accomplished moment, what is it in your view?"
Biden: "No, there is no mission accomplished." pic.twitter.com/tfSwWaspAI
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) July 8, 2021
The Defense Department said it had already drawn down 90 percent of its operations and handed over seven facilities to the Afghan Ministry of Defense two months ahead of the September 11th deadline set by President Biden this year, according to a U.S. Central Command statement.
In our April CBS News poll, 77% of Americans said they approved of the U.S. removing its troops from Afghanistan.
There was majority approval across the political spectrum. pic.twitter.com/LevT85NixW
— CBS News Poll (@CBSNewsPoll) July 8, 2021