Progressive lawmakers and peace activists on Tuesday welcomed news that President Joe Biden plans to withdraw all U.S. troops from Afghanistan by September 11, a move that if accompanied by an end to U.S.-led airstrikes would end the longest war in American history.
“Let’s make sure the U.S. does not continue to fight there via other means—CIA, contractors, airwars, drones.”
—Medea Benjamin, CodePink
Although Biden’s decision—which is expected to be formally announced this week—means the U.S. will miss the May 1 withdrawal deadline set by former President Donald Trump during peace negotiations with the Taliban last year, progressive Democrats nevertheless hailed the impending end of a nearly 20-year war that has killed tens of thousands of Afghan civilians and around 3,500 coalition troops.
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.)—who cast the lone dissenting vote in a Congress whose members voted 518-1 to authorize the war following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States—called Biden’s imminent announcement “incredibly encouraging news.”
Biden “will be fulfulling his promise to finally end the longest war in America’s history,” Lee tweeted. “This is such a critical step toward ending forever wars and ushering in global peace.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who in 2001 voted to approve the war, published a statement applauding Biden for “making the brave and right decision” to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan. He asserted that “we must also make sure that in the future the United States uses military force only when necessary to protect our national security and when the objective is clear and achievable, and with the informed consent of the American people and the authorization of Congress.”
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who entered Congress in 2017, also released a statement praising the president’s expected move.
“I applaud President Biden for achieving an impossibility here in Washington: ending a forever war,” he wrote. “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,” said Khanna. “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,” he added, referring to the Trump-Taliban deal.
“Only through diplomacy and negotiations will the war in Afghanistan, which has taken the lives of thousands of civilians, come to an end,” said Khanna.
Anti-war groups and peace activists echoed the progressive lawmakers’ praise. In a statement, Win Without War director Stephen Miles said that “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.”
“The tides are shifting,” added Miles. “Now, we must seize on this momentum to end the era of endless war for good.”
CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin agreed, tweeting: “Let’s make sure the U.S. does not continue to fight there via other means—CIA, contractors, airwars, drones.”
Imperialists in the U.S. Congress—both Republican and Democrat—on the other hand condemned the prospect of the U.S. pullout from Afghanistan. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) said she was “very disappointed” by the move, while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) waxed alliterative in his condemnation, saying that “a full withdrawal from Afghanistan is dumber than dirt and devlishly dangerous.”
These “nattering nabobs of negativism”—to quote former Vice President Spiro Agnew, co-perpetrator of the second-longest war in U.S. history—were anticipated by Win Without War’s Miles, who tweeted: