Biden evokes late son Beau during Afghanistan withdrawal speech, says decision to remove troops 'easy'

Biden evokes late son Beau during Afghanistan withdrawal speech, says decision to remove troops 'easy'
US President Joe Biden spoke about his late son Beau during a speech laying out his reasons to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.
3 min read
15 April, 2021
President Biden, then VP, and son Beau in 2009 [Getty]
US President Joe Biden spoke of his late son Beau, who served as a military major in Iraq, during a speech about withdrawing troops from Afghanistan later this year, and said the decision to do so was "very easy".

Biden visited the tombstones of US soldiers killed in Afghanistan and spoke of his eldest son Beau, who earned the Bronze Star while serving in Iraq from 2008-2009. He had died from a brain tumour in 2015.

"I have trouble these days ever showing up at a cemetery not thinking of my son Beau, who proudly insisted on putting on that uniform and going with his unit to Iraq and giving up his spot as attorney general in the state of Delaware because he thought it was the right thing to do," Biden told reporters at Arlington National Cemetery outside Washington.

He was asked whether the decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan was a difficult one.

"No, it wasn't. To me, it was absolutely clear. Absolutely clear... From the very beginning, you may recall, I never thought we were there to somehow unify... Afghanistan. It's never been done. It's never been done," he said.

He went on to add that Afghanistan was never supposed to be a "generational war", and withdrawing troops was what was best for the country.

Later at the Treat Room at the White House, he said: "I'm the first president in 40 years who knows what it means to have a child serving in a war zone".

Total pullout

Biden revealed earlier this week that he will withdraw all remaining 2,500 troops from Afghanistan by 11 September, the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday it's "time to end" America's longest war with the unconditional withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan, where they have spent two decades in a bloody, largely fruitless battle against the Taliban.

Dubbed the "forever war", the US military onslaught in Afghanistan began in response to the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks against the US.

Now, 20 years later - after almost 2,400 US military and tens of thousands of Afghan deaths - Biden is naming 11 September as the deadline by which the last US soldiers will have finally departed.

The war is at best at a stalemate. The internationally backed government in Kabul has only tenuous control in swaths of the country, while the Taliban are growing in strength, with many predicting the insurgency will seek to regain total power once the government's US military umbrella is removed.

The decision has been met with mixed reactions from military professionals and members of congress.

Additionally, civilian deaths are at an all-time high.
According to the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA), there was "extraordinary levels of harm inflicted on civilians in the Afghan conflict…and the number of civilians killed and injured during the first three months of 2021 [was found] to be significantly higher than a year ago".

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