Trump to Biden: Don't Use Sept. 11 As Afghan Pullout Date Former President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference on Feb. 28, 2021 in Orlando, Florida.(Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
Sunday, 18 April 2021 03:17 PM
Former President Donald Trump is urging another date be selected for the pullout of U.S. troops from Afghanistan that's now set for the 20th anniversary of the 2001 terror attacks on New York and Washington.
In a statement released by his office, Trump objected to the use of the 9/11 anniversary for the move.
"I wish Joe Biden wouldn’t use September 11th as the date to withdraw our troops from Afghanistan, for two reasons," he wrote.
"First, we can and should get out earlier," he wrote, noting Biden blew past his own May 1 deadline for the pullout.
"Nineteen years is enough, in fact, far too much and way too long. I made early withdraw possible by already pulling much of our billions of dollars of equipment out and, more importantly, reducing our military presence to less than 2,000 troops from the 16,000 level that was there (likewise in Iraq, and zero troops in Syria except for the area where we KEPT THE OIL).
Trump said the second reason was that Sept. 11 would take away from the "day of reflection."
"September 11th represents a very sad event and period for our Country and should remain a day of reflection and remembrance honoring those great souls we lost," he wrote. "Getting out of Afghanistan is a wonderful and positive thing to do. I planned to withdraw on May 1st, and we should keep as close to that schedule as possible."
Trump's statement comes as Biden announced recently that he’d pull 2,500 U.S. armed forces from Afghanistan between May 1 and Sept., defying the 14-month period established in February 2020 in a pact signed by Trump, U.S. NATO allies and the Taliban.
"We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result," Biden said in his speech Wednesday.
"I am now the fourth American president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans. Two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility to a fifth."
Earlier Sunday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken defended the Biden administration’s decision to pull U.S. troops from Afghanistan, saying the situation is "not 2001" and that the terror threat has moved to "other places."
The president felt that as we're looking at the world now, we have to look at it through the prism of 2021, not 2001," Blinken told ABC News’ "This Week."
"The terrorism threat has moved to other places. And we have other very important items on our agenda, including the relationship with China, including dealing with everything from climate change to COVID. And that's where we have to focus our energy and resources."
No one can offer guarantees about Afghanistan's future after U.S. troops leave, a top White House official said on Sunday, even as he stressed the United States would stay focused on terrorist threats emanating from the country.
White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan was asked on the Fox News Sunday program about the risk of a repeat of what happened in Iraq, where Islamic State militants seized territory after U.S. troops withdrew in 2011.
That led then-President Barack Obama to send troops back into Iraq.
Sullivan said Biden had no intention of sending American forces back to Afghanistan, but he added: "I can't make any guarantees about what will happen inside the country. No one can."
"All the United States could do is provide the Afghan security forces, the Afghan government and the Afghan people resources and capabilities, training and equipping their forces, providing assistance to their government. We have done that and now it is time for American troops to come home and the Afghan people to step up to defend their own country."
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani rejected what he said were "false analogies" with the war in Vietnam as well as any suggestion his government was at risk of folding under Taliban pressure after U.S. troops leave. Afghan security forces were capable of defending the country, he said.
"The Afghan defense and security forces have been carrying over 90% of the operations in the last two years," Ghani said in an interview with CNN.
CIA Director William Burns told the Senate Intelligence Committee on Wednesday that America's ability to collect intelligence and act against extremist threats in Afghanistan will diminish after the departure of U.S. troops.
A United Nations report in January said there were as many as 500 al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan and that the Taliban maintained a close relationship with the Islamist extremist group. The Taliban denies al Qaeda has a presence in Afghanistan.
Announcing his decision to withdraw troops, Biden said the United States would monitor the threat, reorganize counterterrorism capabilities and keep substantial assets in the region to respond to threats to the United States emerging from Afghanistan.
"He has no intention of taking our eye off the ball," Sullivan said of the president.
"We have the capacity, from repositioning our capabilities over the horizon, to continue to suppress the terrorist threat in Afghanistan."
Reuters contributed to this report.