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US president vows and vows again to leave Afghanistan

A Black Hawk helicopter of the U.S. Air Force is pictured in front of the cityscape on April 29, 2021 in Kabul, Afghanistan. FLORIAN GAERTNER/PHOTOTHEK VIA GETTY IMAGES

The United States has vowed several times, under various different presidents, that it would soon end the war on Afghanistan.However, a full withdrawal of American troops has never materialized.

Now this time President Joe Biden is pledging again that the country is set to end its longest war in history by September the 11th.

I'm now the fourth, United States president to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan, two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility onto a fifth. The Afghans have the right and responsibility to lead their country. And that more and endless American military force could not create or sustain a durable Afghan government.

US President, Joe Biden

Now this is not the first time that Biden is making such a promise. And since former President George W Bush launched the war, back in 2001, all American leaders have announced a soon-to-happen full withdrawal,

The outcome of the war for the US, Afghanistan and the rest of the world

There hasn't really been a proper transition, it has helped in one way, but also put us at risk in others, we had to expedite self reliance and self sufficiency with our security forces at a much faster pace than when what we were preparing for.

The Taliban could see this as an opportunity and attack us, like they did, and think that they could over run, a couple of provinces and put us in a situation where it may be hard for us to take them back.

Hamdullah Mohib, National Security Adviser, Afghanistan

The United States' stated effort to withdraw forces is in part a source of concern for those worrying that the Taliban could gain too much influence in the war ravaged country.

The Afghans have been suffering the consequences and impact of the brutal US presence for almost two decades now.

The Americans have not fulfilled their responsibility to Afghanistan, their responsibilities to ensure a strong government, the rule of law and democracy in Afghanistan, and ensure that people's concerns relayed from terrorism, drugs, intervention by other countries.

Mehruddin Wasiq, Kabul Resident

They failed to fulfill the promises they have made to the Afghan people, these forces are not useful to Afghanistan, because their presence has not changed the country's security situation.

Nasiruddin Hashemi, Kabul Resident

The withdrawal comes at a time when the Afghan government is vulnerable and a surge in terrorism could be just around the corner. Many are already living in fear amid terrorist attacks in Afghanistan.

Bombings, explosions and families, searching for missing relatives in the ensuing chaos, are parts of the reality that could strike an Afghan on any given day.

What do you think is the outcome of America's longest war for the Afghan people, has the US actually managed to gain the stated goals of the so called War on Terror?

For the Afghan people, it's been 20 years of misery, for the US war on terror, but most of that was actually for domestic consumption, you know that was something sold to the American people.

Yes there was an attack on 911, but their response to that attack on 911, was for the US to launch a global war, which did nothing but benefit the American military industrial complex, the American empire, the Washington class, the think tanks and the Defence contractors, at the expense of the American people.

There was never a real threat to the United States, and whatever threat there was, was actually caused by US intervention in the first place.

Daniel McAdams, Executive Director, Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

The United States and its allies invaded Afghanistan in October 2001, as part of the so called War on Terror.

While the invasion ended the Taliban's rule in the country back then, it is ending with a deal with the Taliban.

This agreement will mean nothing and today's good feelings will not last if we don't take concrete action on commitments and promises that have been made. When it comes down to it, the future of Afghanistan is for Afghans to determine. The US Taliban deal creates the conditions for Afghans to do just that. Here's our take. Here's our take on what step by the Taliban will make this agreement a success. First, keep your promises to cut ties with al Qaeda and other terrorists, keep up the fight to defeat ISIS.

Mike Pompeo, Former US Secretary of State

The Taliban agreed to halt attacks in return for Washington's phased withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan and prisoner exchanges with the Kabul government. The agreement was supposed to lay the groundwork for a peace process in the war ravaged country, but so far, it appears to have failed.

This is not the first time that American authorities have vowed to end this war. How serious is it this time and will we see an actual full withdrawal?

Presidents have vowed to get us out of Afghanistan, and it hasn't happened. May 1 was the most recent deadline that President Biden just ignored and now he says he's going to get everybody out by September, 911, which I think is just absurd, to pick an arbitrary date like that, because it has this meaning for Americans that oh we'll be out on the anniversary of 911 because we've killed and taken care of all the damage that was done when that horrific terrorist attack happened on the World Trade Center. So I hate that he just chose this date, instead of saying, as soon as possible. Or let's start now let's get them out.

Leah Bolger, Retired US Naval Commander and Anti War Activist

The US and UK invasion of Afghanistan on the pretext of retaliating for the 911 attacks proved to be futile from the onset.

But the Taliban asked for proof of Osama bin Laden's engagement in the attack, a request ignored by Washington ahead of the bloody war.

Things are pretty desperate in Kabul, there is not a lot of food, the population is scared, people have been leaving. And of course, they've been looking forward to some UN Relief that has only gotten in there in the last week but before that, of course, the Taliban had chased out the relief agencies and there was a lot of concern by the relief agencies now that Afghanistan is in a pre famine condition, and even if the US does these air drops with food, there's a big question as to whether they will get to those people, or not they say that they're worried that the Taliban will simply steal those stores take that food.

Dana Lewis, NBC News, 2001

Today the United States is allegedly ending the war, leaving a mess behind in the resource rich country.

Withdrawal of the foreign forces will be the end of one and the beginning of a new struggle for the people of Afghanistan, some of whom fear the dominance of extremism promoted by the Taliban.

How has the war affected morale in the US military?

Polls shows that the majority of US troops say that the Afghan war was not worth fighting, that's a very difficult thing to say when you've lost your fellow troop members to combat, when there have been literally trillions of dollars invested in this.

So many people wounded. So, the fact that most of the US forces say it wasn't worth fighting must certainly have a very negative effect on the morale of the US forces in general, especially knowing that as they leave, there is no guarantee that they have really made anything better in the long run for the Afghan people.

Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK, Cofounder

Whether or not the US leaves the injuries it has inflicted upon the soul of the nation could take years to heal.

Take the recent bombing in a Kabul neighborhood; nearly 60 people were killed in an attempt that targeted girls returning home from school.

He (an Afghan eyewitness) is telling me the bomb exploded right here and there's a little crater in the ground and then the bomb itself was thrown up against the school gate and this whole road was full of young girls, they had just come out of school, they were walking down this road on their way home when this blast happened.

They have collected all of the belongings they could find, the notebooks, some clothing, blood stained clothing, shoes, with the hope that family members can come by and see some of these things and know if their daughters were among the victim.

Even worse, there's a bag over here that has body parts in it.

Richard Engel, NBC News Chief Foreign Correspondent

The predominantly Shia neighborhood where the incident took place is a frequent target of Daesh and other militant groups in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. A car bomb was initially detonated in front of the Seyyed al-Shohada School, and when the students ran out in panic, two more bombs exploded.

This was just one instance of the attacks on the neighborhood itself, one out of many. So who is to blame for all this unbearable terror?

Terrorism arose because of US interventionism so you know it's like basically, you know, pouring boiling water on your hand, like yeah you should stop pouring it, you know, stop intervening. The danger of terrorism to the United States will be much diminished, every country that the US stops pushing around, stops invading, stops trying to regime change, stops putting sanctions on, every time we stop doing that, actually, the threat of terrorism for the US will be diminished, will be less, because despite the ridiculous mantra at the time, other countries don't hate US because we're rich and free, they hate us because we have our boots on their neck.

Daniel McAdams, Executive Director, Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

US security analysts and some GOP lawmakers have expressed concerns that Al Qaedeh could rise again without an American military presence there.

Now al Qaeda has also vowed war against the US on all fronts.

Washington's top diplomat Anthony Blinken, has suggested that the US is leaving, because it has achieved its goals in Afghanistan, an idea also pitched by the president himself.

And then more and endless American military force could not create or sustain a durable Afghan government. I believed that our presence in Afghanistan should be focused on the reason we went in the first place. To ensure Afghanistan would not be used as a base from which to attack our homeland again. We did that, we accomplish that objective. I said, among with others, we'd follow Osama Bin Laden to the gates of hell if need be. That's exactly what we did and we got it. It took us close to 10 years to put, President Obama commitment into form. And that's exactly what happened.

US President, Joe Biden

The UN has also claimed that the Taliban regularly consulted with Al Qaedeh during its negotiations with the US, vowing to honour historical ties with the group.

But if Al Qaeda or the Taliban are on the path to greater power in Afghanistan, the current troop drawdown could be all based on a sham. What do American people think about the development?

During these 20 years there's been very little coverage in the US press about what's going on in Afghanistan, and you see that the American people are much more concerned about domestic issues, whether it's the pandemic, inequality, police repression, all of these issues are much more on the forefront of people's minds than the Afghan war. And I think, as we see in the polls, the American people are anxious for the US troops to withdraw. So I don't think the American people feel that they, as a people, have a major stake in what's happening in Afghanistan, which is unfortunate because the US should be held accountable for the rebuilding of Afghanistan and putting significant amounts of money into reparations.

Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK, Cofounder

The presence of Daesh Takfiri terrorists is a more recent issue in a country already suffering from the prevalence of extremism.

Daesh announced the formation of a group called ISIS K or ISIL in Khorasan province in January 2015.

There is a significant risk once the US military in the coalition militaries withdraw.

William Burns, CIA, Director

Though Democrats who oppose the war applauded the move, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle, questioned it.


Precipitiously withdrawing US forces from Afghanistan is a grave mistake.

Mitch McConnel, US Senate Republican Leader

As the US tries to end the war, it just conducts more airstrikes in Afghanistan, some of which allegedly have shifted to target, Daesh strongholds.

US forces are set to continue their offensive operations until the so called ISIS K is destroyed in the country, which puts the prospect of a full withdrawal in the shadows.

Well there's a lot of talk about a Civil War when the US leaves but we have to recognise there has been a war going on in Afghanistan for decades, and the US has contributed not only by being part of an invading force but also putting so many weapons into the region and in Afghanistan.

All of the different forces have weapons that were brought in by the US and the NATO forces.

So I think the US has increased the level of violence over these last 20 plus years, and unfortunately because of all the weapons that have been infused into that territory will be in large part responsible for violence that continues after the US troops Withdraw.

Medea Benjamin, CODEPINK, Cofounder

Thousands of people have reportedly fled their homes in the west of the Helmand Province amid fierce fighting in the region.

But this is just the beginning of the withdrawal, and the fighting could intensify. US defence officials play down the threat, which raises the question whether the US is being irresponsible leaving Afghanistan in such a mess.

It’s just what you see now, and it’s not useful. We need equipment. Many of our men have died just because of mines.

Muhammad Khairkhah, Afghan Police, Command Security Officer

Who should be held accountable for the present situation?

Those who have the equipment, The Americans, they should provide the effective equipment to the Afghan government. 

Muhammad Khairkhah, Afghan Police, Command Security Officer

Washington has been causing crises in the country for decades, yet, on the other hand, there is America itself.

For many the withdrawal is a cause to rejoice. Yet, it is not obvious whether it will contribute to a safer America. Some say there is a political aspect to the Biden withdrawal as well.

It'll be interesting to see if we if we will have a full withdrawal we do know that, unfortunately, he waited until the end of his presidency. But President Trump did make some moves to get out of Afghanistan at the very end. He said My, my, my good friend Colonel Doug McGregor. To help make that happen, but his own generals rebelled against him, and said "no way you can't do it'.

And I think President Biden is going to give some of that but I think he also wants to maximize the political benefit by saying hey, we'll be out by the 20th anniversary of the 911 attacks. So, he's politicizing the war for his own benefit.

Will the US completely get out? I'm pretty skeptical that they will, they're saying now that they won't leave contractors in place. You know, I'll believe it when I see it, because war is the lifeblood of Washington DC.

Daniel McAdams, Executive Director, Ron Paul Institute for Peace and Prosperity

Some officials have suggested that the withdrawal could be complete by as early as July, but then there is the US led NATO coalition's pledge of "in together, out together", The US needs to coordinate with more than two dozen countries before leaving.

Peace is the only thing that all people want, but if foreign troops stay here, the realization of peace in Afghanistan will be impossible. Their presence will continue to cause problems.

Sayed Ahand Azizi, Kabul Resident

Living in a time where we are not anywhere with the negotiations, or we haven't received an agreement with the Taliban, would not be responsible and it would cost us losing everything we worked (for) and fought (against) together in the past 20 years.

Metra Mehran, Women Empowerment and Education Advocate

The US plans for a quick exit from Afghanistan depend on many factors, the role Pakistan and India will have in the post occupation era are also significant and could complicate the process.

What is certain, however, is that there is grave resistance towards US presence in the region.

An aggressive war creates resistance, and whether you want to call that resistance terrorism or you want to call it, just being a freedom fighter trying to try to protect yourself, you know, the United States refers to everybody that's on the enemy side as either a militant or insurgent or extremist or a terrorist.

But, if you, if an American could possibly imagine a drone flying over Chicago and dropping a Hellfire missile, then, every, every American, would be an insurgent, they would, they would try to protect themselves, they would, they would do whatever they can to resist this violence and get revenge.

And that's how you know after 911 we have to find revenge on somebody, so let's go bomb some Muslims because it was Muslims that that were responsible for the killing, not the people who did just total the crime, but the whole population.

It's insanity. So, you know the 20 year war has done nothing but create Carnage and, and, and destroy people's lives for generations, for generations, and even if people who, who survived, you know they have, they have the trauma. 

I went to Pakistan in 2012 and I met with victims of drone strikes, and we, you know, the United States is responsible for killing thousands and thousands of people in Afghanistan, and Pakistan, which we are not even at war with, you know, constitutionally.

But these people, their lives have changed forever.

They've been traumatized they're, they, they, they can't continue their lives in a normal way for fear of being attacked, for fear for their lives and their children's lives.

Leah Bolger, Retired US Naval Commander and Anti War Activist

Joe Biden argues that withdrawal makes sense in part because terror threats are more prevalent today.

Therefore, he suggests, it's a better idea not to concentrate troops in just one country, the argument however comes in the backdrop of negotiations with the Taliban in 2018, started by the former President Donald Trump.

Donald Trump has been speaking for years about taking troops out of Afghanistan. He believes that, while it was right to go into Afghanistan that they have been there too long, and that is certainly a view shared by many Americans and not just Trump supporters, If these interlocking agreements, as Mike Pompeo describes them works, then the United States will start withdrawing troops within the next 100 days or so down from 12,000 to about 8600, and that number will continue to decrease.

Alan Fisher, Aljazeera Correspondent

An agreement known as the Doha accord was signed in early 2020, between the US and the Taliban, which proposed a roadmap for the withdrawal of foreign troops within 14 months.

Now, in the twilight days of the American withdrawal, conflict still rages on unveiling the dark reality of the US intervention in Afghanistan.

And the people I talked to, they, they don't understand why we're there, they look at people who live in rural areas in Afghanistan and they're kicking in their doors and they're thinking, what are we doing here, these people are just like me I mean I live out in the country and I'm a farmer and these people are just trying to get by. Why are we doing this. And I think more and more, it is really hard on morale for people to be in the military and not believe in the mission. And so, you know that's another thing that the United States propaganda machine venerates veterans and treats them like they can't do anything wrong.

Leah Bolger, Retired US Naval Commander and Anti War Activist

Now Afghanistan is also at the centre of US domestic politics.

Donald Trump has thrown his full support behind Joe Biden's initiative to withdraw US forces, which has complicated the Republican Party's messaging, with GOP leaders wondering just how to question Biden's strategy towards Afghanistan.

Why has he done it well he's done it because, quite frankly, Americans are weary of the war. and the idea is that if the Afghan government would have developed the capability to stand on its own two feet, it's had enough time to do it.

I served in the army in Afghanistan when my son was six months old In 2002, he has a beard. Now, you know, and that that is a pretty common tale. People are just tired.

What we've seen are a lot of houses bought in Dubai. We haven't seen elementary progress made towards a functioning government.

David Desroches, Former Pentagon Official

GOP Leader Mitch McConnell's stance has been posited in a way to hold Biden accountable if terrorists gain more power in Afghanistan.

There are also those Republicans who have said outright that a full withdrawal is wrong

The power play in Congress and the White House is an extension of US hegemony in the region and the ultimate victims are the people of Afghanistan and the rest of the region.


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