State Department spokesman: US ‘in a stronger position as a country’ because of Afghanistan withdrawal
State Department spokesperson Ned Price claimed on Monday that the U.S. is “in a stronger position as a country” today because of President Biden’s decision to pull out of Afghanistan one year ago.
Many have considered the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan to be a disaster after the nation’s capital quickly fell to the Taliban despite Biden’s reassurance, and thousands of American citizens and allies were left stranded or scrambling to safely get out of the country. Still, Price continued to claim the effort was a success in a press conference.
“Many of us here at the Department and across the government, and millions of Americans and Afghans alike, are mindful of today’s meaning as the 20-year-long U.S. military mission in Afghanistan ended nearly one year ago,” Price said.
He continued, “Ending the longest war in American history was never going to be easy, but one year later we are in a stronger position as a country because of the President’s decision, better able to focus on the threats and challenges, but also the opportunities of today.”
Price further asserted that the recent assassination of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri in Afghanistan proves that the pullout was beneficial and that the U.S. is properly helping its Middle Eastern allies.
He pledged the U.S. will “stand by our Afghan allies and their families by resettling tens of thousands of them here in the United States, demonstrating the very best of the American people’s generosity, and we will continue to welcome our Afghan allies over the weeks and months ahead. We’ll also keep supporting the Afghan people during the dire economic times as the largest donor of humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan.”
“We have demonstrated that we are able to fulfill our enduring commitments to the Afghan people using the various diplomatic tools at our disposal and with exceptional help from our partners like Qatar, the UAE and our European allies and others,” he said.
“Of course, the international community will continue to expect that the Taliban meet the commitments they have made to the Afghan people in key areas,” Price said.
He emphasized that with soldiers out of Afghanistan, the U.S. is now free to focus on the threats of Russia, China and climate change.
“We can take on all of these challenges without putting our service members at risk in an open-ended military commitment. The same is true for our partners, including NATO, which is now more purposeful than ever in the face of Russian aggression against Ukraine,” he said. “As a result, we are able to focus our resources to face new global challenges, confronting Russian aggression, managing the competition with PRC, addressing shared challenges like Covid-19 and climate change, and seizing opportunities in the Indo-Pacific among other regions.”
“For the first time in nearly 20 years, our forces are not in harm’s way in Afghanistan and we are fully focused on the challenges and opportunities that define the 21st century,” Price concluded before taking questions.
On the U.S.’s final day in Afghanistan, August 31, 2021, Biden called the withdrawal, which saw 13 U.S. service members killed in a bombing and untold numbers of civilians dead in the chaos, “an extraordinary success.”
Biden’s poll numbers quickly fell after the Afghanistan pullout and have yet to recover.