Biden vs Biden: President takes new tone on Afghanistan compared to earlier in career

President takes new tone on Afghanistan compared to earlier in career

President Biden’s tone on Afghanistan, particularly concerning nation-building, has drastically shifted over the years.

Before the U.S. withdrew all troops out of Afghanistan on Aug. 31, Biden spent years advocating for the likes of nation-building in the country, a stark contrast to his recent rhetoric.

“Remember why we went to Afghanistan in the first place? Because we were attacked by Usama bin Laden and al Qaeda on Sept. 11, 2001,” Biden said on Aug. 31 as he addressed the nation following the withdrawal. “We delivered justice to bin Laden on May 2, 2011 – over a decade ago.”

“We had no vital interest in Afghanistan other than to prevent an attack on America’s homeland and our friends,” he continued.

Biden’s recent comments stand in stark contrast to the rhetoric he pushed during his time as a senator.

“Whatever we do in Afghanistan, whether it involves the commitment of military, political or humanitarian assets, must be geared toward a long-term solution,” Biden said on Oct. 3, 2001. “We cannot repeat the mistakes of the past. If we think only in the short-term, only of getting bin Laden and the Taliban, which we must do, we just are begging for greater trouble down the line.”

In his recent address to the nation, Biden also said the U.S. was never in Afghanistan to nation-build – a complete departure from his past stance on efforts in the region.

“We did not go to Afghanistan to nation-build,” Biden said on Aug. 31. And during a 2019 Democratic debate, Biden said he had gotten in a “big fight for a long time with the Pentagon” because he strongly opposed the nation-building notion.

But on Oct. 8, 2008, Biden said: “As every military expert that testified before our committee has noted, the battle against the Taliban is not going to be won with bullets and bombs alone. It’s going to be won with roads, clinics and schools.”

Matt Wall contributed to the video in this report.

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