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Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal Is a Disaster in the Making

One of my favorite phrases during the Trump Administration was “… and they said being a conservative Democrat would be hard.” At long and painful last, the Biden Administration is truly making it more difficult with their ignominious and short-sighted abandonment of Afghanistan.

What makes it worse is that Biden – the fellow chosen by the Democratic Party specifically to reverse Trumpism – is following [1] in Trump’s [2] footsteps [3] with this calamitous mistake.

It’s not often that one sees the Washington Post editors [4] criticize a Democratic president from the right, but that’s how bad this is.

In recent weeks, Taliban forces have captured dozens of districts in a nationwide offensive, surrounding several provincial capitals [5] and blocking key roads into Kabul. On Tuesday, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan, Gen. Austin S. Miller, met with reporters and warned  [6]with remarkable bluntness that “civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized,” adding: “That should be a concern for the world.”

It ought, at least, to be a concern for Mr. Biden, who inherited a difficult situation from President Donald Trump but chose to pull the plug on the U.S. mission rather than fix it.

Lest we forget, the entire rationale for the withdrawal were “peace” talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government. As American troops and contractors abandon the country, the Taliban have made it clear how little they value those talks [7].

By some experts’ estimates, Taliban forces control as many as 140 of the country’s 370 districts and are active or influential in 170 others. U.S. and Afghan military officials alike have given much lower estimates, but more districts continue to fall to the Taliban almost daily, either in violent clashes or by peaceful surrenders, according to local officials and Afghan media reports.

The conditions for the withdrawal also included a promise from the Taliban to cut ties to al Qaeda which is also not happening.

“The Biden withdrawal from Afghanistan makes a Taliban takeover inevitable and gives al-Qaeda the opportunity to rebuild its network, to the point where it could once again plot attacks around the world,” Dr Sajjan Gohel, a security and terrorism analyst, told the BBC [8].

“The Taliban is inseparable from al-Qaeda, with cultural, familial and political obligations from which it will remain unable to fully abandon, even were its leadership sincere in seeking to do so,” Dr Gohel of the Asia Pacific Foundation said.

In other words, the reasons we helped the Afghan people against the Taliban in the first place.

You read that right: helped the Afghan people. They had been suffering under Taliban-al Qaeda rule for years while September 11th was just another late summer date on the calendar. They will continue to suffer long after we tell ourselves that the war is “over,” just as the peoples of Vietnam and Cambodia were murdered – millions of them – while we patted ourselves on the back for “ending” the war there.

Now the Afghan people will suffer alone, until al Qaeda is strong enough to hit us again. At which point, to quote Henry McMaster [9]

“We will pay the price, and we’ll be back. We’ll have to go back, and at a much higher cost.”

That cost won’t be just paid in the international arena. It will be difficult for a resurgent Donald Trump to criticize the very “peace” deal he championed, but he’ll try, and millions of American voters will either believe him wholeheartedly or rationalize away the obvious dishonesty. All the while, Ron DeSantis, Kristi Noem, and Nikki Haley – among others – bash Biden for losing Afghanistan.

Or, as the WaPo editors put it

Mr. Biden has long been a skeptic of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan, and he has stuck to that position even as the number of troops and expenditure dedicated to it have drastically shrunk. His view has been that the war against the Taliban is unnecessary and unwinnable. But the descent from stalemate to defeat could be steep and grim. We wonder whether he has fully considered the consequences.

They’re not alone.