Keeping Fingers Crossed As US Commits To Removing Military From Afghanistan
Keeping Fingers Crossed As US Commits To Removing Military From Afghanistan
Yes, President Biden has bitten the bullet to remove US troops from Afghanistan by the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack that triggered our initial entry into that nation for our longest war. Of course, we shall not quite be fully out as not only will there still be some Marines guarding the embassy in Kabul, but probably covert CIA forces will continue to operate and drone bombing will probably continue and possibly even continue the expansion that has been going on for some time, with over 7000 bombs dropped on the nation by the US in 2019 according to Juan Cole. But, hey, still looking good.
Needless to say many are upset and whining and worrying. David Ignatius in WaPo worries that the Taliban will take Kabul after a bloody war and allow al Qaeda or ISIS to establish themselves there, saying that the worst thing would be for the US to have to go back in again after having left the way we went back into Iraq after ISIS grabbed lots of territories after we left there. But Biden has been through these discussions and decisions and was long reported to want out from Afghanistan way back when Obama was increasing troop levels up to about 100,000, with them now down to just a few thousand. Most of the withdrawal has already happened, and with Trump having promised a May 1 withdrawal an effort to go back on that with lots of conditions would probably trigger an upsurge of Taliban attacks on US troops, making a mess of things.
Of course, it is quite possible, maybe even likely, that this will lead to a full Taliban victory down the road, which will be awful for the women of Afghanistan at a minimum. But Juan Cole argues that maybe the danger of all sorts of terror groups setting up shop there, in that case, may be overblown. Apparently, the Taliban did not approve of bin Laden’s original 9/11 operation and have been not at all friendly to ISIS. They might well keep those groups under more control than when they ran the country before. And Cole also notes that al Qaeda has a substantial presence in places like Yemen and Syria without this leading to them organizing 9/11 style attacks on the US. Even if they get a base in Afghanistan, such would likely be smaller and weaker than these, and in Syria, the US has effectively allied itself with al Qaeda allies.
Another point Cole makes is that the chances for this to lead to a stable and peaceful outcome in which the economy and people of Afghanistan can get into better shape would be helped if immediate neighbors would imitate Britain and Russia in the late 19th century and early 20th when they put a stop to their Great Game and effectively declared Afghanistan to be a neutral zone. Now the nations that should do it are India and Pakistan, with each backing different groups in Afghanistan. Cole suggests that maybe China can play a role in encouraging them, at least Pakistan to make such a move, with the presence of Uighurs in some of the Afghan groups possibly providing an incentive for them to do so, and with major Belt and Road Initiative money in Pakistan, China might even have the clout. I suspect Cole is reaching for windmills on this matter, but it certainly would be a good thing if this US withdrawal were to be followed by such an agreement by outsiders to leave Afghanistan alone. Maybe peace might really come to this much troubled and fought-over land.
Good piece, Rosser, even if not good peace. You captured the precariousness of any foreign policy that involves proactive military stance. I believe the popular cliché is damned if we do and damned if we don’t do. Like the immovable object meets irresistible force paradox, flexing martial muscle in foreign policy is when oblique strategy meets opaque policy objectives. Back in the good old days the US employed dollar diplomacy to cheat its way through any Kobayashi Maru scenario. We have unlearned a great deal since then.
The dollar diplomacy meme was applied specifically to TR and Taft, but US foreign aid was highest during the administrations of JFK and LBJ. I guess that Dick nixed foreign aid because the MIC made more bucks off of military intervention and with the draft effectively abolished by the volunteer Army there was nothing left to stop MIC expansion into the proactive US foreign policy regime.
Look for the Taliban to kill at least 30,000 people in the next few years.
But, we lack the balls to commit to a 100-year stay.
You think 100 years would make a difference?
I sure don’t.
Not for nothing is Afghanistan
called The Graveyard of Empires.
So, *NATO* joins with use in a decision
to depart that country forthwith. Biden
having supported the original invasion,
shows some courage in ordering an
exit. Should have been much, much
earlier, when it could have been
more plausibly asserted that
victory had been achieved.
Maybe two years in.
So be it.
Fred C. Dobbs
April 15, 2021 6:47 pm
Not for nothing is Afghanistancalled The Graveyard of Empires.
you have just located the window of opportunity. now before it’s slammed shut we have to persuade the North Koreans to invade Afghanistan. When Koreans leave we persuade the Iranians to go in, rid ourselves of three problems simultaneously, kill 3 birds with one stone.
LOL, but in the case of Iran it is a neighbor and is involved in Afghanistan, although less than either India or Pakistan. Apparently India supports ethnic Tajiks who are mostly in northeastern Afghanistan and according to Juan Cole the main other nation that would have preferred the US remain there. Elements of Pakistani military intel are supposedly supporting the Taliban. The Taliban are predominantly Pushtuns, who are the largest ethnic group in the nation and are mostly in its south and spill over into the Northwestern Frontier of Pakistan.
The majority of the population of Afghanistan are Sunni Muslims, but the Hazara minority, a group who live mostly in central Afghanistan and are maybe about 10 percent of the population are Shia. Apparently Iran has actively attempted to protect them as they have suffered considerably from discrimination by the Sunni groups there. However, Iran does not have troops in Afghanistan.
thanks for some information i did not know, and some speculation i had not speculated.
seems to me that if we keep up the bombing, we haven’t left. and we will incur the wrath of the world if not you-know-who.
the mistake we made in Vietnam, besides going there in the first place…which was somewhat forgivable considering the realities of realpolitik…was losing out sacred honor by acting like Nazis when we got there . (ooo no, not another violation of the “Nazi” rule!…no.not really, just pointing at one aspect of similarity, depending on details of your moral structure.)
I wish I could think of a way to save the people from the Taliban or whoever, but having shot our wad, all we can do is tuck our tails and get out and leave the T. or whoever to make their own karma. We might have done some good if we had been good. I can’t begin to tell you the evil I see that i have to shut my eyes to because I can do no good. Making a bad situation worse is not a good strategy.
The events of 9/11/2001 left us no choice
but to invade and punish Afghanistan.
The ideal time to depart that country was
back in 2003 or 2004, but it apparently
was clear to the guv’mint that we had
to remove the 9/11 perpetrator first.
That would not occur until 2011.
That he was in Pakistan complicated
matters significantly. But we should have
left then, once that was accomplished.
WASHINGTON — President Biden used his daily national security briefing on the morning of April 6 to deliver the news that his senior military leaders suspected was coming. He wanted all American troops out of Afghanistan by Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the attacks on New York and the Pentagon.
In the Oval Office, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wanted to make certain. “I take what you said as a decision, sir,” General Milley said, according to officials with knowledge of the meeting. “Is that correct, Mr. President?”
Over two decades of war that spanned four presidents, the Pentagon had always managed to fend off the political instincts of elected leaders frustrated with the grind of Afghanistan, as commanders repeatedly requested more time and more troops. Even as the number of American forces in Afghanistan steadily decreased to the 2,500 who still remained, Defense Department leaders still cobbled together a military effort that managed to protect the United States from terrorist attacks even as it failed, spectacularly, to defeat the Taliban in a place that has crushed foreign occupiers for 2,000 years.
The current military leadership hoped it, too, could convince a new president to maintain at least a modest troop presence, trying to talk Mr. Biden into keeping a residual force and setting conditions on any withdrawal. But Mr. Biden refused to be persuaded. …
how do you punish a country? beat on the ground with your fist? or blow up tall men wearing white robes in the mountains, or bombing wedding parties because “high value targets” are said to be among the guests? or just putting an american boy in jail for twenty years because he happened to be living there when we decided to start bombing his friends?
or call the men there definding their country “illegal combatants” so we can torture them in American jails, which we pretend are not in America so the Constitution does not apply… the Constitution, apparently applying only to the ground and not to the people making the rules or subject to their power.
sure, we ran the political leaders out of the country, though it’s not certain they knew what Bin Laden was up to. But they..the Taliban are still there. While we have lost the moral respect of the world.
‘how do you punish a country?’
I’m guessing that’s a rhetorical question.
But… ‘All of the above.’
After all, *NATO* agreed.
Despite the fact that the response
to 9/11 was rather disproportionate.
Despite the concerns of many in the US about
that, US honor had been sullied, and the President
and Congress went ahead, as always.
actually it was anti-rhetorical. I have no patience with people who need to kill someone because their honor was sullied. Except for Cyrano, of course.