Joe Biden

WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: President Biden Announces End to America's Longest War

April 15, 2021

Yesterday, President Biden announced that he has decided to withdraw remaining U.S. troops from Afghanistan and finally end the U.S. war there after 20 years. Speaking from the White House Treaty Room, he said, "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."

The President emphasized that we achieved the objective we with which entered Afghanistan some years ago ­-- to deliver justice to those who attacked us on September 11, and to disrupt terrorists seeking to use Afghanistan as a safe haven to attack the United States. Now, we will continue to support the ongoing peace process, while focusing our attention on investments in infrastructure and new technology at home, ensuring American competitiveness on the global stage.

See below for what they are saying:

North Atlantic Counsel Ministerial (NATO): "In 2001, Allies invoked Article 5 of the Washington Treaty for the only time in NATO's history and went to Afghanistan together with clear objectives: to confront al-Qaeda and those who attacked the United States on September 11, and to prevent terrorists from using Afghanistan as a safe haven to attack us. In the ensuing decades through the investment of blood and treasure, and in partnership with the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and its security forces, we have worked together to achieve these goals." [Statement, 4/14/21]

President Barack Obama: "After nearly two decades in Afghanistan, it's time to recognize that we have accomplished all that we can militarily, and bring our remaining troops home. I support @POTUS's bold leadership in building our nation at home and restoring our standing around the world." [Tweet, 4/14/21]

General Colin Powell: "I'd say we've done all we can do. .?. What are those troops being told they're there for? It's time to bring it to an end." [Washington Post, 4/13/21]

Former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel: "Biden's approach is the right one...There is no military solution in these things. You got to fix it diplomatically, there's no other way." [Tweet, 4/13/21]

Former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon: "Endless wars without specific goals in mind is not...healthy for the United States." [Defense One, 4/14/21]

Michael Beschloss, Presidential Historian: "The great presidents in history, the great war presidents, are always those who have empathy. One thing we know about Joe Biden is he has suffered in his life and understands people who people are suffering." [MSNBC, 4/14/21]

Ret. General Barry McCaffrey: "I think the presentation by President Biden was just superb. I think it was politically inevitable. We have been there for 20 years… I personally would support what President Biden's decision has been." [MSNBC, 4/14/21]

Ret. Lieutenant General Doug Lute: "Al-Qaida in this region, Afghanistan and Pakistan, are decimated compared to what they were previously… What's the evidence of an al-Qaida transnational terrorist threat? The last one, by my record, by my survey of that history is 2005 in London. So, the presence of a few al-Qaida fighters doesn't constitute a threat to the American homeland." [PBS, 4/14/21]

Members of Congress

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi: "The Biden Administration's announced timeline for the safe, strategic and orderly departure of American troops from Afghanistan is an important and welcomed development. As Speaker, I support this transition and President Biden's leadership to protect the safety of our troops and the security of the American people, which must be our priority. The United States Congress remains committed to advancing peace and security in Afghanistan and the region, including an inclusive Afghan government that respects the human rights of all its people. It is imperative that the hard-won gains secured by and for Afghan women and girls are not erased. Congress will be working closely with the Administration to ensure that our support for our Afghan partners remains strong and that this transition is orderly and made in coordination with our allies. As we mark twenty years since the tragedy of September 11, we look forward to welcoming our heroic troops back to American shores safely as soon as possible." [Statement, 4/14/21]

House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer: "American forces have been involved in operations in Afghanistan for nearly twenty years, the longest conflict in our history. Throughout that time, our personnel have acted with great courage and resolve to carry out missions aimed at removing the Taliban from power, destroying Al-Qaeda and the network that attacked us on 9/11, bringing stability and freedom to large parts of the country, and partnering with Afghan security forces to defend against dangerous insurgencies. More than 2,300 American service-members and more than a thousand serving in allied Coalition forces made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan. The previous approach of maintaining thousands of U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan has not led to a resolution, and a new approach is required. I believe that President Biden is making the right decision to bring all of our personnel home this year." [Statement, 4/14/21]

Rep. Adam Smith, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee: "I have followed the conflict in Afghanistan for years in my oversight role on the House Armed Services Committee, and after my conversations with President Biden's national security team I remain convinced that withdrawing our troop presence from Afghanistan is the right policy decision. It is also clear to me that adjusting the timeline was a necessity given that the previous May 1 deadline posed significant logistical challenges. Withdrawing our force too quickly would endanger more than 3,000 U.S. troops and 7,500 partner nation troops and this adjusted timeline will allow the Department of Defense and our allies to bring their troops home safely." [Statement, 4/14/21]

Rep. Andy Kim, member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs: "This decision is the right move that finally ends the longest war in American history. As we approach 20 years since September 11th, we honor the thousands who lost their lives that day as well as the over 2,300 U.S. Servicemembers who gave the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan. Our military has decimated Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and prevented them from regaining safe haven. We will stay vigilant against terrorism threats, whether in Afghanistan or anywhere in the world, and continue to make the security of our homeland our top priority." [Statement, 4/13/21]

Rep. Ro Khanna, member of the House Armed Services Committee: "I applaud President Biden for achieving an impossibility here in Washington: ending a forever war. It is an act of extraordinary political courage and vision. After 20 years, thousands of lives lost, and trillions of dollars spent, we are finally bringing home our troops from Afghanistan. President Biden campaigned on this popular policy and is now delivering on that promise. I'm hopeful this policy change, in accordance with U.S. commitments under the Doha agreement, will help bring peace to a country that for decades has been ravaged by war. Only through diplomacy and negotiations will the war in Afghanistan, which has taken the lives of thousands of civilians, come to an end." [Statement, 4/13/21]

Rep. Barbara Lee, Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations: "I applaud and strongly support President Biden's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2001. We are finally doing the right thing, and we're now on the cusp of ending the longest war in American history for good…President Biden was right to mention in his speech today the need to protect rights for women and girls in Afghanistan. I appreciate his renewed investment in achieving diplomatic and development goals. This illustrates his understanding that building sustainable peace in Afghanistan will require long-term bilateral and multilateral efforts. In my role as Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations, I look forward to continuing to work with the administration to ensure women, girls, and vulnerable populations receive the vital assistance they need." [Statement, 4/13/21]

Rep. Ted Lieu, member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs: "I am grateful to President Biden for his decision to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. We should have left this war years ago. Having served on active duty in the United States Air Force, it's clear to me that the U.S. has the best military in the world. However, our military is not designed to prop up foreign governments, as we've learned through nearly two decades in Afghanistan. After 19 years, trillions of dollars spent, and the lives of more than 2,000 U.S. service members lost, this decision is monumental for troops, military families and our nation as a whole. I'm pleased President Biden is finally getting this done." [Statement, 4/13/21]

Rep. Sara Jacobs, member of the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs: "I am grateful for President Biden's commitment to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan this year. While I know it was a difficult decision, it is also the right one – and a welcome sign of the President's intent to mark a new chapter in American foreign policy...The American people — including our military families and military communities, like the one I represent in San Diego — are ready for our troops to come home and ready to refocus on the security needs of the future." [Statement, 4/13/21]

Rep. Adam Schiff, Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence: "President Biden's anticipated announcement that we will conclude the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan reflects the reality that our continued troop presence after 20 years of war is no longer in the United States' best interest…As our mission changes, we must also remember the tremendous sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, as well as our intelligence professionals, who helped kill Osama bin Laden and decimated the terrorist group that attacked us on September 11. Even as we confront new challenges—from a rising China and resurgent Russia and transnational threats from climate change and pandemics —I have confidence in our capacity to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat terrorist threats to the United States and our allies, wherever they may emerge." [Statement, 4/14/21]

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair: "I strongly applaud President Biden's decision to fulfill his promise to bring our troops home and end the U.S. military occupation of Afghanistan…Today, President Biden is demonstrating the courage and leadership to break from this broken state of affairs, so corrosive to our democracy, to side with strong, bipartisan majorities of Americans who have long demanded an end to our military involvement in Afghanistan. President Biden understands that now is the time to refocus our energies toward robust diplomacy and humanitarian assistance to help ease this conflict and facilitate a sustainable, Afghan-led, negotiated settlement. [Statement, 4/13/21]

Rep. Gregory Meeks, Chair of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs: "I look forward to working with the administration to find a path in Afghanistan that supports America's security interests and our values, while also ensuring we are able to bring our men and women in uniform home before the end of 2021." [Statement, 4/13/21]

Rep. Ami Bera, member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs: "I applaud President Biden for his decision to drawdown U.S. forces in Afghanistan, which will bring an end to the longest war in our nation's history. After 20 years, it is time to bring our troops home." [Statement, 4/14/21]

Rep. Jim McGovern, Chair of the House Committee on Rules: "President Biden's decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan is a welcome & important step toward ending America's decades-long war there. Moving forward, Congress must act to ensure that no President—Democratic or Republican—ever again has a blank check for endless war." [Tweet, 4/14/21]

Rep. Joe Neguse: "It is long past time to end America's longest war. Thank you, President Biden, for your commitment to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan." [Tweet, 4/14/21]

Rep. Colin Allred, member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs: "When I visited our service members in Afghanistan it was clear to me that they could accomplish any mission we gave them, but it was also clear there was no military solution to Afghanistan's problems. After 20 years, @POTUS is right to end our deployment." [Tweet, 4/14/21]

Rep. Andy Levin, member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs: "Withdrawing U.S troops from Afghanistan is a monumental step towards ending our nation's endless wars for good. It's past time to rethink the mindset that brought us here in the first place and invest in diplomacy, not militarism." [Tweet, 4/14/21]

Rep. Diana DeGette: "We've had troops in Afghanistan for 20 years. It's time to bring them home. I support @POTUS's plan to withdraw all US troops from the region this year. But, we need to make sure we're not giving up the progress we've made, or endangering the lives of the people living there." [Tweet, 4/14/21]

Rep. Dina Titus, member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs: "In response to the 9/11 attacks, U.S. military forces and those of our allies have displayed courage and perseverance in carrying out their missions in Afghanistan. For two decades, we have asked so much of these troops and their families. It is time for them to come home. This is not an easy call, but it is the right one. The current military strategy, executed by Democratic and Republican presidents alike, is a recipe for an endless troop presence in Afghanistan. President Biden – whose son served in uniform overseas – understands the true cost of war better than most. He also knows that difficult diplomacy will be required in the months and years ahead to thwart the Taliban and protect the rights of Afghani women and girls. Today is an especially important day to remember all those we have lost in this war and thank those who volunteered to put themselves in harm's way for the greater good." [Statement, 4/14/21]

Rep Mark Takano, Chair of the House Committee on Veterans' Affairs: "I strongly support President Biden's decision to withdraw all of our troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. It's time to end America's longest war and to bring our troops home." [Tweet, 4/14/21]


Senator Chuck Schumer: In my view, President Biden's plan to bring American troops home from Afghanistan is a very wise one. [Floor Statement, 4/13/21]

Senator Chris Coons: President Biden's consulted closely with allies. He's had meeting and meeting after meetings with senior military and intelligence advisors and has really only come to this decision after weighing all the factors."

Senator Bernie Sanders: "I applaud President Biden for making the brave and right decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and bring an end to the longest war in our country's history." [Statement, 4/13/21]

Senator Elizabeth Warren: "I strongly support President Biden's commitment to withdraw all U.S. forces from Afghanistan. September 11, 2021 will mark nearly 20 years of our presence there and while our withdrawal comes years late, President Biden recognizes the reality that our continued presence there does not make the U.S. or the world safer. Year after year, military leaders told Congress and the American people that we were finally turning the corner in Afghanistan, but ultimately, we were only turning in a vicious circle. For nearly 20 years, we have adopted a costly war-based approach to national security and counterterrorism policy with no clear endgame. This strategy has damaged the United States' reputation worldwide, undermined our security, devastated the Middle East, and cost the lives of thousands of servicemembers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and Afghans. It's time to bring our troops home." [Statement, 4/13/21]

Senator Tim Kaine: "The U.S. went into Afghanistan in 2001 to defeat those who attacked the U.S. on 9/11. It took us 10 years to find and kill Osama bin Laden. We stayed an additional 10 years to help train Afghan security forces and create conditions for a more stable future in that country. It is now time to bring our troops home, maintain humanitarian and diplomatic support for a partner nation, and refocus American national security on the most pressing challenges we face." [Statement, 4/14/21]

Senator Chris Murphy: "It's past time for the American military presence in Afghanistan to end. President Biden's decision to bring our remaining troops home from America's longest war is the right one. More than 2,000 American lives have been lost – and tens of thousands of Americans wounded – fighting terrorists and insurgents and giving the government in Kabul an opportunity to succeed. After twenty years, it's clear that our continued military presence will not deliver political stability to the country, and the Afghan people must decide their own future. In coordination with our allies and partners, we must execute an orderly withdrawal and begin to normalize our diplomatic and military relationship with Afghanistan. We don't need a permanent U.S. military footprint in the country to effectively combat terrorism. I'm looking forward to working with the Biden administration to reshape our engagement in the region so we can better address security challenges after our withdrawal." [Statement, 4/14/21]

Veterans groups

Common Defense: The full withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan by September 2021 presents a tremendous victory for the American people, and particularly the military veterans who organized so hard to bring this moment to pass. President Biden is keeping his promise to voters by accomplishing what his predecessors could not, and as the veterans who fought this war, we strongly agree with him: it is time to come home. [Statement, 4/13/21]

Secure Families Initiative: We enthusiastically commend the White House for taking this important step toward ending endless wars. This two-decades-long conflict has cost our military families dearly. 8,363 American families have been irreversibly altered by casualties and major injuries in Afghanistan and Iraq. Thousands of additional families have been worn down by the separation, uncertainty, and anxiety that come from operating at wartime tempo for so long. This announcement will finally allow our families to breathe a sigh of relief. [Statement, 4/13/21]

Jon Soltz, VoteVets: "Words cannot adequately express how huge this is for troops and military families, who have weathered deployment after deployment, with no end in sight, for the better part of two decades. President Biden is removing troops in a way that is consistent with the security of our country, our troops, and the Afghan people." [Statement, 4/14/21]

Paul Rieckhoff: "We have so many national security priorities that are more pressing than Afghanistan." [Tweet, 4/14/21]

Dan Caldwell, Concerned Veterans for America: "While we still believe a full withdrawal by the May 1st deadline in the Doha agreement best serves America's interests, we are pleased to hear President Biden is firmly committed to bringing our troops home within the next few months. America has more pressing priorities at home and elsewhere, and President Biden must keep his promise to end our endless war in Afghanistan." [Statement, 4/14/21]


Truman National Security Project: "The Truman National Security Project and Truman Center for National Policy commend President Biden on his decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan. For nearly 20 years, the war in Afghanistan has wreaked devastating losses at a cost of more than $2 trillion to U.S. taxpayers. More than 2,000 American service members have died in the conflict, over 20,000 have been wounded, and at least 100,000 Afghan civilians have been killed or injured. While our armed forces have made incredible sacrifices and important gains, an orderly troop withdrawal remains long overdue. It is important now, for domestic and international reasons, that this chapter in U.S. history comes to an end." [Statement, 4/14/21]

Foreign Policy for America: "Foreign Policy for America appreciates President Biden's announcement of a timetable for an orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. After two decades of military presence, it is time to pursue a political and diplomatic path for America's involvement in Afghanistan." [Statement, 4/13/21]

Adam Weinstein, Quincy Institute: "The administration has taken a critical step to ending America's longest running war … Removing U.S. troops from Afghanistan is imperative to creating the opportunity for peace in the region and is a step forward in adopting foreign policy rooted in sustainable diplomacy and aid." [Statement, 4/14/21]

William Ruger, Trump's Nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, Charles Koch Institute: "But Biden is now doing the right thing by ordering a speedy and full military withdrawal from Afghanistan. He deserves praise for ultimately taking an approach that is consistent with our interests and bucking a Washington foreign policy establishment that would have preferred we stay and continue to fight ... It is time to end America's longest war. We—Americans Left, Right, and center—should be thankful President Biden came to that realization as well." [National Interest, 4/14/21]

Former Rep. Tom Perriello: Diplomacy is back! Courageous decision by @POTUS Biden to bring US troop home from Afghanistan before 20th anniversary of 9/11. Along with ending support for drone war in Yemen & restarting Iran talks, Biden is boldly restoring the primacy of US diplomacy. [Tweet, 4/14/21]

Jane Harman, President Emerita of the Wilson Center: "If we don't get out now, we'll never get out." [Defense One, 4/14/21]

Ben Rhodes, Former Deputy National Security Advisor: "This is 20 years beyond 9/11, far beyond anything that the American people expected in terms of cost, loss of life, costs of trillions of dollars. Also, I remember when I was in the White House, Joe Biden used to carry around with him every single day the casualty numbers for our troops that served in Afghanistan and Iraq. I think he is acutely aware, because of his role as Senator and Vice President, because he was the father of someone who served in Iraq, his son, Beau. He is acutely aware of how much we've asked these service members to do. I don't think on 9/11, anybody envisioned we would be sending people who were born after 9/11 to serve in Afghanistan. As President of the Untied States, he has to step back and make a decision not just about what is the best thing I can do in Afghanistan, but what is the right decision for the country? That we need to turn the page on the war." [MSNBC, 4/14/21]

Win Without War: "If today's reports are true, President Biden is doing the right thing and taking a big step towards ending our nation's endless wars." [Statement, 4/14/21]

Joseph R. Biden, WHAT THEY ARE SAYING: President Biden Announces End to America's Longest War Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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