Biden's Afghanistan pullout is going to cost us
President Biden's feckless handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan will have a significant impact on the future of the U.S.
President Biden claimed he had a choice "either to follow through on that [Trump's withdrawal] agreement or be prepared to go back to fighting the Taliban."
He chose to follow through on the agreement, albeit without its tough conditions, which among other things included a requirement from the Taliban to share power.
The chaos that has resulted was a result of not the withdrawal itself, but the inept way it was carried out. Pulling out troops first, abandoning the strategic Bagram airbase without telling the Afghani military, leaving civilians to fend for themselves without troops to protect their departure, and leaving billions' worth of military hardware for the Taliban to get its hands on have led to this chaos. The president weakly claimed he wanted to avoid further bloodshed, as did the swiftly fleeing president of Afghanistan.
The way the withdrawal was implemented will only guarantee further bloodshed on a massive scale. The fall of Afghanistan is a historical disaster of epic proportions. It may rival the fall of Constantinople. Afghanistan is not called the Graveyard of Empires for nothing. The Soviets left Afghanistan in 1988–1989, and the Soviet Union was officially dissolved in December 1991.
British M.P. Lord Forsyth of Drumlean claimed, "It is very hard to overestimate the scale of the catastrophe following the Biden administration's disastrous implementation of the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan." British M.P. Lord Blencathra believes that "Biden may have condemned the world to Chinese domination in future and the end of western liberal democracy." He continued, "This is not like Saigon; it is far worse. The Viet Cong had no agenda outside Vietnam but Afghanistan is now under the control of Islamist fanatics who want to wage war on every Western democracy." Former British prime minister Tony Blair stated, "America's retreat is imbecilic — and tells our enemies we don't have any interests or values worth defending. Friends and foes ask: is this a moment when the West is in epoch-changing retreat?"
How will the Biden administration deal with the massive hostage crisis we are about to witness? When not on vacation, its first response is to deny that there is a problem.
In her August 23 press briefing, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki indignantly stated, "I think it's irresponsible to say that Americans are stranded. They are not." However, national security adviser Jake Sullivan told Meet the Press on August 22 that there are "several thousand" Americans still stranded in Afghanistan. On August 17, the Daily Mail reported that 40,000 Americans were stranded in Afghanistan. No one knows the actual number. How do you plan an evacuation when you don't know how many people need to be evacuated? Press secretary for the Defense Department John Kirby told reporters the U.S. military does not know how many Americans remain in Afghanistan.
The Iran crisis involved only 52 American hostages. The Iranians were able to humiliate the Carter administration for 444 days. How will the Biden administration deal with hundreds and possibly thousands of hostages? The media will have a field day with heart-wrenching stories. As an example, there are more than 20 students and 16 parents from El Cajon, California who visited Afghanistan on summer vacation. They were unable to get to the airport. One reason Americans cannot get to the airport is Taliban roadblocks. John Kirby has acknowledged that some Americans have been beaten by the Taliban in Kabul. He reassured us that the Biden administration has "communicated to the Taliban" that the attacks are unacceptable. Even Democrat Rep. Adam Schiff believes that getting all Americans out of the country by 8/31 is unlikely.
If it is necessary to re-enter Afghanistan, the American military will be facing a well equipped adversary. Between 2002 and 2017, the United States gave the Afghan military an estimated $28 billion in weaponry. One U.S. official claimed, "Everything that hasn't been destroyed is the Taliban's now." This would include 40 aircraft UH-60 Black Hawks, scout attack helicopters, and ScanEagle military drones; 600,000 infantry weapons including M16 assault rifles; 2,000 armored vehicles; and 16,000 night-vision goggle devices. What kind of assistance can we expect from anti-Taliban Afghans?
In addition to the problems arising in Afghanistan, the withdrawal will inspire forces throughout the world to challenge the U.S. President Biden claimed that we got rid of al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Almost immediately after he made this claim, Kirby stated, "We know that al-Qaeda is a presence as well as ISIS in Afghanistan." These terrorists may be headed to the U.S. The Defense Department's Automated Biometric Identification System has flagged up to 100 of the 7,000 Afghans evacuated as prospective recipients of Special Immigration Visas as potential matches to intelligence agency ties-to-terrorism watch lists. Vladimir Putin has rejected the idea of airlifting people from Afghanistan to countries near Russia, or even in Russia. He claims he did not want "militants showing up here under cover of refugees."
John Dietrich is a freelance writer and the author of The Morgenthau Plan: Soviet Influence on American Postwar Policy (Algora Publishing). He has a Master of Arts degree in international relations from St. Mary's University. He is retired from the Defense Intelligence Agency and the Department of Homeland Security. He is featured on the BBC's program "Things We Forgot to Remember:" Morgenthau Plan and Post-War Germany.
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