Grim end to Afghanistan war: No ‘mission accomplished’ or ‘moment of celebration,’ White House says

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President Biden won’t be taking any victory lap on the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, and instead the White House offered a sober reality that America’s longest war just can’t be won militarily. 

“We’re not going to have a mission accomplished moment in this regard,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday referring to the premature “Mission Accomplished” banner that served as the backdrop of former President George W. Bush’s 2003 speech on an aircraft carrier.  “It’s a 20-year war that has not been won militarily.”

Biden addressed the nation Thursday about his decision to remove U.S. troops from Afghanistan despite the growing threat from the Taliban. During a White House news briefing prior to his remarks, Psaki said while there may be drawbacks to the decision, Biden didn’t want to sacrifice more lives and treasure on a war that has gone on for too long. 

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“He is not going to ask another generation of kids to go and serve in Afghanistan in a war that he does not feel can be won militarily,” Psaki said. “That is the core driver of his decision here.”

With the Taliban surge occurring in Afghanistan as the U.S. troops are already 90% gone, the White House sought to focus on some of the positives of the last 20 years  – such as finding and killing Osama bin Laden and ensuring Afghanistan can’t be used as a home base for terrorist attacks on the United States and its allies. 

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“We did exactly what we intended to do … however, there is not a benefit, in our view, in continuing to fight this war militarily,” Psaki said. 

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The war in Afghanistan started after the deadly Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and Biden has committed to removing nearly all U.S. troops from the country by Sept. 11, 2021.