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White House on Joe Biden’s delay in ending the war in Afghanistan: just trust him

With President Joe Biden expected to pass the deadline for withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan soon, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Tuesday that Americans should nonetheless trust Biden to fulfill his promise to end the 20-year intervention.

Biden has “consistently voiced his concerns about the war over the past decade, and that has always been his point of view, even back when he was vice president and was not aligned with everyone. world in administration, so that should hopefully give people confidence in its commitments, ”Psaki told HuffPost’s Kevin Robillard at a White House press conference. However, she did not clarify Biden’s actual timetable for attracting the presence of US troops there.

Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump have also repeatedly criticized the US campaign in Afghanistan – but both ended their presidency with thousands of US troops still in the country. In the coming days, Biden is likely to announce that the deployment of 3,500 troops will continue beyond the May 1 deadline for their negotiated departure under Trump.

“The president … has indicated that it would be operationally difficult to meet the timetable for the exit of all troops by May 1,” Psaki said.

JAVED TANVEER via Getty Images

Afghan security forces stand on Humvees during a military operation in Arghandab District, Kandahar Province, April 4, 2021.

Progressive lawmakers and anti-war activists fear that if Biden begins his presidency by pursuing current policies instead of quickly bringing troops home, he will ultimately fail to change course. The hawks could be emboldened and become more assertive in attacking the withdrawal plans, and US diplomacy with the Taliban – the die-hard Afghan militants that Washington has been fighting since overthrowing their regime in 2001 – could falter, multiplying attacks on Americans.

Certain officials of the administration argue in private the opposite: that maintaining the US presence for a few more months is the only way to prevent the country from spiraling out of control after the withdrawal, as it could put pressure on the Taliban to strike a power-sharing deal with the Afghans. pro-American. Many analysts outside of national security believe It was that hope – rather than the operational concerns Psaki and Biden cited – that tipped Biden towards delay.

Some of the president’s advisers also believe he should not feel bound by the Trump-era deal with the Taliban, which set May 1, 2021 as the date for the US to pull out in exchange for a hiatus. on the Taliban offensives against the Americans. “It wasn’t a deadline we set,” Psaki said.

Supporters of the withdrawal of US forces and skeptics of a withdrawal are intense lobbying Biden’s team and Congress hoping to influence the president’s final decision.

Serve under Obama, Biden did push against efforts to send more forces into the country, and he criticized Washington’s ambitious plans to stay deeply involved in Afghanistan, acknowledging evidence that many US development efforts have failed.

Yet Biden has always supported the idea of ​​continued US involvement in Afghanistan – a policy he believes could prevent the country from once again becoming a safe haven for terrorist groups as it was with al-Qaeda before the attacks of September 11, 2001 and subsequent attacks. American invasion. Human rights groups and some foreign policy experts believe that simply treating the country as a site of counterterrorism operations would destabilize it even more, potentially implicating the United States in more deaths. civilians and prolonging decades of fighting between various Afghan factions.

Psaki did not indicate when Biden plans to make his announcement by the May 1 deadline or whether his plans hinged on the ability of US officials to convince the Taliban to agree to such an extension and maintain their shutdown of targeting Americans. .

“This is … an important decision, which he must take in close consultation with our allies and with our national security team here in this administration, and we want to give him the time to do so,” she said. .


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