Speed Reads

time machine

Back in 2001, Biden warned against leaving Afghanistan 'in chaos'

With the United States ending its 20-year military mission in Afghanistan under President Biden, C-SPAN's Howard Mortman resurfaced a clip of Biden giving a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations about America's role in the country just weeks after the post-9/11 invasion.

A senator serving as chair of the upper chamber's Foreign Relations Committee at the time, Biden predicted that "20 years from now" CFR scholars would mark September 11, 2001, as the beginning of the end of international terrorist organizations' ability to "operate with impunity." But he also warned that "we cannot squander this opportunity." 

Despite the fierce criticism he's faced over the last few weeks, Biden's recent comments indicate that he largely believes the U.S. accomplished its primary goal of ensuring that Afghanistan was no longer a base for terrorists over the last two decades. But it's less clear if everything else played out according to how he hoped it would 20 years ago. In the 2001 speech — which can be viewed at length at C-SPAN — he also advocated for the emergence of a stable democratic government  in Afghanistan with aid from the U.S. (though he did clarify that he wasn't talking about military aid). "I'm reluctant to use the word nation-building because it is such a loaded political term these days," he said in 2001. "But if we leave Afghanistan in chaos, it will be another time bomb waiting to explode." Watch the full speech at C-SPAN.