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Taliban special forces stand guard outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. military's withdrawal on Aug. 31, 2021. (AP) Taliban special forces stand guard outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. military's withdrawal on Aug. 31, 2021. (AP)

Taliban special forces stand guard outside the Hamid Karzai International Airport after the U.S. military's withdrawal on Aug. 31, 2021. (AP)

Louis Jacobson
By Louis Jacobson October 28, 2021

Posts falsely say Joe Biden broke with Donald Trump on Afghanistan withdrawal

If Your Time is short

• President Joe Biden didn’t break with Trump on Afghanistan policy, except for pushing back the withdrawal by a few months. Trump set the U.S. troop removal in motion and Biden continued on that path.

• Biden could have reversed the Trump policy by declaring an open-ended U.S. commitment to stay in Afghanistan, but he didn’t.

A conservative webpage being shared on Facebook attacks President Joe Biden on multiple fronts, asserting that "liberals are waging a war on Christianity and Trump Supporters."

The page encourages visitors to claim a free "In God We Trust" hat, or, as the page describes it, a "Jesus hat."

One part of the online pitch caught our eye: "The reason why Biden wanted to withdraw troops so quickly from Afghanistan ... leaving behind thousands of Americans was simply because of Trump Derangement Syndrome and they wanted to reverse any policy that Trump had implemented."

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

Officially, the State Department says the number of Americans still in Afghanistan is smaller than "thousands." In testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Oct. 26, Colin Kahl, the undersecretary of Defense for policy, said that 196 Americans remain in Afghanistan but are ready to leave the country, with another 243 not yet ready to leave.

Those numbers are impossible to verify independently, so we won’t address them here. 

However, we will assess the statement that "the reason why Biden wanted to withdraw troops so quickly from Afghanistan ... was simply because of Trump Derangement Syndrome and they wanted to reverse any policy that Trump had implemented."

In reality, Biden, for whatever the shortcomings of his troop removal efforts, was following an approach begun by Trump, rather than reversing it.

The United States had been in Afghanistan militarily since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Trump reached an agreement with the Taliban that would have resulted in the complete withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan before Biden ultimately withdrew the troops. 

On Feb. 29, 2020, almost a year before Biden took office, the U.S. signed an agreement with the Taliban that paved the way for a phased withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, to conclude by May 2021 if certain conditions were met. The deal featured guarantees from the Taliban to "prevent the use of the soil of Afghanistan by any group or individual against the security of the United States and its allies." 

In remarks about the deal, Trump expressed hope but reservations about the Taliban, saying of its leaders, "We'll be very much hoping that they will be doing what they say they're going to be doing. They will be killing terrorists. They will be killing some very bad people. They will keep that fight going."

On Sept. 18, 2020, Trump said, "We’re having some very good discussions with the Taliban, as you probably heard. It’s been public. But we’ll be down to, very shortly, we’ll be down to less than 4,000 soldiers. We’ll be out of there, knowing that certain things have to happen. Certain things have to be fulfilled, but 19 years is a long time."

Then, on Nov. 17, 2020, Trump’s acting defense secretary, Christopher Miller, made that official. He announced that Trump had decided that by Jan. 15, 2021, the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan would be reduced from 5,000 to 2,500.

When Biden took office, he announced on April 14, 2021, that he would delay the final withdrawal date from May to September but otherwise keep Trump’s planned removal in place. He did not set conditions for the withdrawal. 

In a speech on July 8, Biden said the military mission in Afghanistan would end Aug. 31. But events on the ground hastened the removal: By Aug. 16, the Afghanistan government had fallen to the Taliban.

Our ruling

The posts said "the reason why Biden wanted to withdraw troops so quickly from Afghanistan ... was simply because of Trump Derangement Syndrome and they wanted to reverse any policy that Trump had implemented."

In reality, Trump set the U.S. troop removal in motion and Biden continued on that path. Biden could have reversed the Trump policy by declaring an open-ended U.S. commitment to stay in Afghanistan, but he didn’t.

We rate the statement False.

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Posts falsely say Joe Biden broke with Donald Trump on Afghanistan withdrawal

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