Biden Defends Ending “Forever War” in Afghanistan & Criticizes Using War as Tool for Nation-Building

Biden Defends Ending “Forever War” in Afghanistan & Criticizes Using War as Tool for Nation-Building

well we begin today’s show looking at afghanistan on tuesday president biden forcefully defended his decision to withdraw u.s troops from afghanistan i was not going to extend this forever war and i was not extending a forever exit president biden described the u.s pull-out as a quote extraordinary success noting the u.s helped over 120 000 people flee afghanistan since the taliban seized power two and a half weeks ago he called for a new era in u.s foreign policy as we turn the page on the foreign policy this guided our nation our nation the last two decades we’ve got to learn from our mistakes to me there are two that are paramount first we must set missions with clear achievable goals not ones we’ll never reach and second we must stay clearly focused on the fundamental national security interest of the united states of america this decision about afghanistan is not just about afghanistan it’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries when i was running for president i made a commitment to the american people that i would end this war today i’ve honored that commitment it was time to be honest with the american people again we no longer had a clear purpose in an open-ended mission in afghanistan after 20 years of war in afghanistan i refused to send another generation of america’s sons and daughters to fight a war that should have ended long ago after more than two trillion dollars spent in afghanistan a cost that researchers at brown university estimated would be over 300 million dollars a day for 20 years in afghanistan for two decades yes the american people should hear this 300 million dollars a day for two decades you take the number of one trillion as many say that’s still 150 million dollars a day for two decades and what have we lost as a consequence in terms of opportunities i refuse to continue to war that was no longer in the service of the vital national interests of our people and most of all after 800 000 americans serving in afghanistan i’ve traveled that whole country brave and honorable service after 20 744 american servicemen and women injured and the loss of 2 461 american personnel including 13 lives lost just this week i refuse to open another decade of warfare in afghanistan we’ve been a nation too long at war if you’re 20 years old today you’ve never known an america at peace president biden speaking on tuesday we are joined today by phyllis bennis author and fellow at the institute for policy studies author of many books including before and after u.s foreign policy and the war on terrorism phyllis if you can respond to president biden’s address talking about ending this forever war and stopping a forever exit you know amy i think that there were a number of things that president biden said in his speech that were both true and important the most important of which was that it was right and important to get out he didn’t say of course that it was wrong to have gone in in the first place in a war that was illegal that was not authorized by the united nations or self-defense that violated international law that justified and normalized terrorism across the understanding of this country but it was right to get out the huge problems in terms of how they got out how the withdrawal happened he acknowledged only barely which is a huge problem but i think that keeping the focus on the the significance of ending the war was very important particularly because he was willing to acknowledge and really focus on the economic cost as well as the human cost those figures from brown university which my ips colleagues at the national priorities project have been using for years we’ve struggled to get those into national consciousness so having that being said by the president twice that it’s 300 million dollars a day two trillion dollars is more than anybody can even imagine how much money was wasted on that war so that was very important he implied that this was the end of the global war on terror i think that was something that is clearly not true the u.s is still waging war in a host of other countries including iraq for whose war the afghanistan war was really uh initiated in the first place it raises the question of whether he his own view is that the u.s war policy is shifting away from wars against so-called terrorism towards potential wars with china perhaps russia the the rise of the new cold war tensions with china are very very serious he didn’t reflect on that in this speech but again it was very important that he spoke of the legitimacy and the significance of pulling out i think we should be clear there’s a lot of talk and i think it’s very justified about afghans feeling abandoned by the united states because of the nature of this chaotic and insufficient withdrawal and all of that is true i think what’s also true is that the united states abandoned the people of afghanistan long before this withdrawal they abandoned the people of afghanistan when they occupied their country when they imposed a government that was based on u.s understandings of what a government should look like and had nothing to do with the history with the political culture of of afghans themselves they abandoned women when after 20 years of u.s war and occupation afghanistan is still number one in infant mortality in the whole world meaning it’s the worst place in the world for a woman to give birth and have her child live to her first birthday you know this is what abandonment of women looks like so i think that we need to be talking about a new era indeed we need a new era of refugee protection we need a new era of turning away from spending 53 cents of every discretionary federal dollar directly on the military we need to move away from all of that we need to move away from any notion that a war waged for vengeance and we should be clear this was never about justice this was never about bringing the perpetrators to justice this was about vengeance and about preparing the people of this country for going to war in a much more dramatic and and urgent and in fact worse way in many ways in afghanistan just two years later all right so i think i’m sorry in in iraq that’s later i wanted to ask you about the refugee issue uh the uh and the press coverage of the the plight of those trying to get out the civilians trying to the afghans trying to get out of the country in the last few weeks it seems to me there’s enormous hypocrisy involved in this kind of coverage first of all it’s uh no retreat from a lost war is going to be uh orderly and uh and well managed but the issue of refugees there have been uh an estimated by the united nations over six million uh refugees from afghanistan about three and a half million internally displaced and another 2.6 million uh who are outside of afghanistan in other countries uh and of those the united states has only taken in 20 000 over the last 20 years and we have countries like uh pakistan has 1.4 million afghan refugees iran 780 000 afghan refugees even germany 180 000 and the united states which started the war prosecuted the war and maintained the occupation has so far only taken in 20 000 refugees so this refugee problem is not a new one uh it’s just now only now being focused on by the press it’s absolutely right it’s not only just being focused on by the press it’s also just being focused on by the government by a whole host of uh forces across this country and you’re absolutely right juan this is enormous levels of hypocrisy the hypocrisy in this war it’s hard to to measure how how far it goes but certainly on the question of refugees that suddenly now the refugees that are coming out are the refugees who are the people who who did in many ways benefit women in particular did benefit if they lived in kabul they benefited in certain ways in a temporary sense from access to education health care and and jobs that were not available before that is real and the us did make uh uh promises that it should have kept the the way this withdrawal was carried out was not just disorganized it was badly planned it was it was terribly done in my view but that doesn’t go to the question of the hypocrisy on what was the u.s obligation to those refugees to the idps to the countries like pakistan and iran that were hosting for years millions of refugees iran at one point had two and a half million refugees many have left some have gone back we are hearing now from for example the head of the afghan women’s network who said yesterday she felt an absolute sense of relief seeing the last u.s forces leaving as as a woman and she said we are now able to figure out what we’re going to do in this new era i think that we in the in this country have an enormous debt not only to the refugees that are coming out this month but to the people of afghanistan whose country we have so devastated where we have killed tens of thousands of their citizens so we owe a debt of of uh reparations we owe compensation we don’t owe continued drone strikes we don’t owe continued attacks from over the horizon something that is guaranteed to maintain a level of of violence and extend the cycles of violence that we have seen in these last 20 years but certainly the press should be in every one of these articles should be focusing on the relationship of all of the uh the refugees the idps those that are seeking some kind of protected status asylum in ways that this country has not been willing to provide we’re going to rap in one minute but i wanted to get your comment on president biden referencing china twice during his speech this is what he said and here’s a critical thing to understand the world is changing we’re engaged in a serious competition with china we’re dealing with the challenges on multiple fronts with russia were confronted with cyber attacks and nuclear proliferation and there’s nothing china or russia would rather have would want more in this competition in the united states to be bogged down another decade in afghanistan as we wrap up clearly the united states is concerned about china and russia as he says china and russia stepping into the breach in a different way as the u.s pulls out soldiers and just to be clear there’s an army there of counter-intelligence of mercenaries that is not over uh so the forever war is not exactly over but what about china and russia phyllis i think that why we saw in 20 years of war in afghanistan it proved once again that there is no military solution to terrorism if our relationship with china and russia can be based on competing for who can provide the most and the best aid and assistance to the country of afghanistan that has been so devastated by outside powers led by the united states for so many years not just this 20 years but for 20 years before that that would be a victory i think for those of us who fought against this war for 20 years if we can see a competition between russia and china and the u.s for who can provide the most vaccines instead of what the u.s is doing right now preventing the imf from giving afghanistan 450 million dollars that was pledged for vaccines and for covet care that would be a great thing that’s the kind of competition we should have that wealthy countries are competing with each other to see who can provide the best and the most effective aid to those in need we’re going to thank you phyllis bennis author and fellow at the institute for policy studies coming up we speak with an afghan doctor who just fled kabul with his wife and four children went to qatar and germany eventually came back home to virginia we’ll hear his story
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Biden Defends Ending “Forever War” in Afghanistan & Criticizes Using War as Tool for Nation-Building

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