Decisions have consequences, and the Biden administration is learning that. After announcing the U.S. pullout of Afghanistan on April 14, the political naysayers and former military long-knives are out in force. But are they on the right side of history on this? President Biden made good on former President Trump’s campaign promise. As Liberty Nation’s Jeff Charles told us back in 2019, “During the 2016 campaign, Trump repeatedly vowed to get the U.S. out of Afghanistan and other ‘never-ending wars.'”
Former President Trump negotiated with the Taliban a May 1 date for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. LN reported, “President Biden announced in a televised address on April 14 that he planned to start the pullout of 2,500 remaining troops in Afghanistan on May 1 and have them all out by September 11.”
Leo Shane III in his April 14, 2021, Military Times report on Biden’s rationale quoted the president saying:
“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create ideal conditions for the draw and expecting a different result. I’m now the fourth United States president to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan … I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.”
President Biden acknowledged that the Obama-Biden administration did pass the Afghanistan mess on to the Trump national security team. Despite the president’s close familiarity with the Afghanistan problem, Biden should not be surprised with the immediate and considerable blowback from his Afghanistan troop withdrawal decision.
Former general officers never shrink from an opportunity to opine when national security decisions don’t comport with their worldview and experiences. No stranger to controversy, General David Petraeus is highly critical of Biden’s decision, as Kevin Baron, writing for Defense One, reports. Baron quotes Petraeus taking issue with the idea of ending endless wars with a serious caution, saying:
“‘…But I think we need to be really careful with our rhetoric because ending U.S. involvement in an endless war doesn’t end the endless war. It just ends our involvement. And I fear that this war is going to get worse.’ Petraeus warned that the pullout would create potentially destabilizing refugee flows. ‘We are going to see an exodus out of this country of anybody who has an option to leave,’ he said. And of those who lack that option? ‘I would not, certainly, want to be part of the 50 percent of Afghans that are female.'”
Particularly troubling is Petraeus’ warning regarding the jeopardy into which the Biden decision may put Afghan women and girls. Women and girls have been making modest but continuing progress in education and jobs in a male-dominated culture. But not nearly on par with the money spent.
On the political front, pols from both parties were quick to voice objection to Biden’s Afghanistan withdrawal policy. FOX News’ Brooke Singman, in an April 14 article, said, “Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-KY), slammed the move, saying that ‘precipitously withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan is a grave mistake. It is a retreat in the face of an enemy that has not yet been vanquished and an abdication of American leadership,’ McConnell said.”
On the other side of the aisle, Senator Jeanine Shaheen (D-NH) said in a statement put out by her office, “I’m very disappointed in the president’s decision to set a September deadline to walk away from Afghanistan. Although this decision was made in coordination with our allies, the U.S. has sacrificed too much to bring stability to Afghanistan to leave without verifiable assurances of a secure future.”
No one, however, seems to answer the question most Americans should be asking. Why would U.S. political and military leadership involve U.S. armed forces in an “endless war?” The answer is that there is an acceptance of the notion that there is an end, but no one is quite sure what the end looks like.
Former U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff General Jack Keane, retired, came close to describing the phenomena in an interview with FOX News. He said that a significant problem is that the U.S. military and political leadership do not keep the American people apprised of the threat and what should be done. Keane said, “The terrorists haven’t left the battlefield…we don’t keep the American people informed and advised, is what’s going on. None of our presidents have ever done a very good job of doing that.”
McConnell explained that he offered a legislative amendment that called on the Trump administration to “certify that conditions have been met for enduring defeat of Al Qaeda and ISIS before initiating significant withdrawal of United States forces from Syria or Afghanistan.” Unfortunately, after 20 years, that requirement is too late and rings hollow.
Former-President Trump and current-President Biden’s national security team have the more compelling narrative. History will, in the end, prove that to be true or not.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
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