Afghanistan Withdrawal Is ‘Ending an Era’ of Failed Nation-Building, Says Biden
One day after nearly 20 years of war in Afghanistan came to an end, President Joe Biden said he was closing the book on an inglorious and expensive phase of American foreign policy.
“This decision about Afghanistan is not only about Afghanistan,” Biden said in a speech Tuesday from the White House. “It’s about ending an era of major military missions to remake other countries.”
That’s a remarkable, and welcome, sentiment to hear expressed by an American president.
Most Americans had long ago soured on the idea of nation-building in Afghanistan (and Iraq) and had voted for a series of presidential candidates who promised (and then failed) to put an end to America’s longest war. In the end, the war that enjoyed bipartisan support for years was ended in a bipartisan fashion. Former President Donald Trump put the Pentagon on the clock when his administration reached a deal with the Taliban to withdraw by May 2021. Biden postponed that deadline but held firm when it mattered.
In doing so, he’s created an opportunity to chart a new way forward for America’s foreign policy. Far from promising isolationism, Biden said Tuesday that “human rights will be the center” of his foreign policy. “But the way to do that is not through endless military deployments,” he added, stressing that America should instead use its prestigious diplomatic and economic tools to work with belligerent countries. If that shift materializes, it should be welcomed by both Americans and the rest of the world.
Much of Biden’s speech on Tuesday was aimed directly at the war hawks who have criticized his administrat
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