Colombo, September 4 (SAM): The US President, Joe Biden, said in his speech after the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan on August 31, that the US will continue to fight terrorism not by “putting troops on the ground” but by using “over the horizon” methods as was the case when the US forces used drones to avenge the killing of 13 US troops by the ISIS-KP.
The President soft-pedaled the threat from the Taliban, and put the blame for the attack on the Kabul airport on the ISIS-KP which he described as the “sworn enemy” of the Taliban.
Biden went on to say that the threat of terrorism might emanate from many other countries and, therefore, the US has to change its containment policy.
“This is a new world. The terror threat has metastasized across the world, well beyond Afghanistan. We face threats from al-Shabaab in Somalia, al-Qaida affiliates in Syria and the Arabian Peninsula, and ISIS attempting to create a caliphate in Syria and Iraq and establishing affiliates across Africa and Asia.“
“The fundamental obligation of a (US) president, in my opinion, is to defend and protect America — not against threats of 2001, but against the threats of 2021 and tomorrow. That is the guiding principle behind my decisions about Afghanistan. I simply do not believe that the safety and security of America is enhanced by continuing to deploy thousands of American troops and spending billions of dollars a year in Afghanistan. But I also know that the threat from terrorism continues in its pernicious and evil nature. But it’s changed, expanded to other countries.”
‘Our strategy has to change too. We will maintain the fight against terrorism in Afghanistan and other countries. We just don’t need to fight a ground war to do it. We have what’s called ‘over-the-horizon’ capabilities, which means we can strike terrorists and targets without American boots on the ground — or very few, if needed. We’ve shown that capacity just in the last week. We struck ISIS-K remotely, days after they murdered 13 of our service members and dozens of innocent Afghans,” Biden said.
Zeroing in on the ISIS-KP he said: “We are not done with you yet.”
Further on a change in tactics, Biden said: “As commander in chief, I firmly believe the best path to guard our safety and our security lies in a tough, unforgiving, targeted, precise strategy that goes after terror where it is today, not where it was two decades ago. That’s what’s in our national interest.”
“As we turn the page on the foreign policy that has guided 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. Moving on from large-scale troop deployments will make us stronger and more effective and safer at home.”
Turing to terrorists, Biden said: “ Those who wish America harm, those that engage in terrorism against us and our allies, know this: The United States will never rest. We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you down to the ends of the Earth, and we will — you will pay the ultimate price.”
On US policy on the people of Afghanistan, Biden said: “Let me be clear: We will continue to support the Afghan people through diplomacy, international influence and humanitarian aid. We’ll continue to push for regional diplomacy and engagement to prevent violence and instability. We’ll continue to speak out for basic rights of the Afghan people, especially women and girls, as we speak out for women and girls all around the globe. And I’ve been clear that human rights will be the center of our foreign policy. “
“But the way to do that is not through endless military deployments, but through diplomacy, economic tools and rallying the rest of the world for support.”
Gains of Withdrawal
On the economic gains of the withdrawal from Afghanistan, Biden said: “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 $2 trillion spent in Afghanistan — a cost that researchers at Brown University estimated would be over $300 million a day for 20 years in Afghanistan — for two decades — yes, the American people should hear this: $300 million a day for two decades.”
The 20-year war had led to 20,744 American servicemen and women getting injured, and 2,461 being killed, including the 13 lives lost just before the full withdrawal date.
“I refused 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 have never known an America at peace,” the President said.
“As we close 20 years of war and strife and pain and sacrifice, it’s time to look to the future, not the past – to a future that’s safer, to a future that’s more secure, to a future that honors those who served and all those who gave what President Lincoln called their “last full measure of devotion.” I give you my word: With all of my heart, I believe this is the right decision, a wise decision, and the best decision for America.”