This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It is about ending an era of major military operations to recreate other countries. We saw a mission of counterterrorism in Afghanistan, which led the terrorists to stop the attacks, turn it into a counterinsurgency, nation building, trying to create a democratic, cohesive and united Afghanistan. Something that has never been done in the many centuries of Afghan history. If we continue with that mindset and that kind of large-scale deployment of troops, we will become stronger, more effective and safer at home.
And to anyone who gets the wrong idea, I want to say plainly: to those who want to harm America, to those involved in terrorism against us or our allies, know this. The United States will never rest. We will not forgive. We will not forget. We will hunt you to the ends of the earth and you will pay the ultimate price.
Let me be clear. We will continue to support the Afghan people through diplomacy, international influence and humanitarian aid. We will continue to push for regional diplomacy to prevent violence and instability. We will continue to speak out for the basic rights of the Afghan people, especially women and girls, while speaking out for women and girls around the world.
And I’ve been clear that human rights will be at the heart of our foreign policy. But the way to do that is not through endless military efforts, but through diplomacy, economic instruments and rallying the rest of the world for support.
My fellow Americans, the war in Afghanistan is now over. I am the fourth president to answer the question of whether and when this war must end. When I ran for president, I promised the American people that I would end this war. Today I honored that promise. It was time to be honest with the American people again. We no longer had a clear target in an open mission in Afghanistan. After 20 years of war in Afghanistan, I refuse to send another generation of American sons and daughters to fight a war that should have ended long ago.
After spending more than $2 trillion in Afghanistan — the cost that researchers at Brown University estimate at more than $300 million a day over 20 years in Afghanistan. For two decades. Yes. The American people should hear this: $300 million a day for two decades. Take the trillion number, as many say, that’s still $150 million a day for two decades. And what opportunities have we lost as a result?
I refuse to continue a war that no longer served the vital national interests of our people. And most importantly, after 800,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan, I traveled all over that country. Brave and honorable service. After 20,744 US servicemen and women were wounded, and the loss of 2,461 US personnel, including 13 lost this week, I refuse to open another decade of warfare in Afghanistan.