Why the U.S. should have stayed in Afghanistan
The “root cause” of the debacle in Afghanistan goes back more than a year to when then-President Donald Trump opened the door for the Taliban to overrun the county.
President Joe Biden disastrously added his signature incompetence to turn a mess into a horrifying humanitarian disaster.
In February, 2020, the Trump administration and the Taliban signed a “historic agreement” to boot out the few remaining troops and, among other things, to release 5,000 terrorists being detained by the government (to join the forces that took control of the country). Could you trust the Taliban?
This isn’t a popular view, considering how isolationism has rolled through America, but our presence in Afghanistan was in our national interest. We didn’t need 40,000 troops there. The 2,500 military and civilian contractors there provided intelligence and other vital services that allowed the U.S. to maintain a footprint in the most deadly part of the world. That was fewer troops that we have in a bunch of other nations in which we have an interest.
Told you so: Afghanistan: Vietnam all over again
Despite that, Biden’s unapologetic speech this afternoon was disgusting. Essentially calling the Afghans quitters was stupid and ignorant. Some 50,000 Afghans were killed fighting the Taliban. They jeopardized their families and their livelihoods They wanted what we have–freedom. Biden’s quitter charge was a slander committed by a small mind.
Biden also devalued the sacrifices made by the American men and women who were killed or wounded in a war that was in our interest. Their sacrifices, thanks to Biden, have been in vain. Biden shed crocodile tears as if he could feel their pain. For him, it’s “deeply personal.” Oh, sure.
The big lie floated by isolationists throughout the last two decades was that we were “nation building.” Wrong. The purpose was to create a strategic balance of influence, if not power, on the borders of Iran and China. Both now are positioned to move in. Isolation or intervention is not an either-or proposition. There’s plenty of room between the two absolutes flexible enough to serve our interests. Sadly we fooled ourselves, lead by self-serving politicians, down a dangerous path.
For an intelligent and balanced analysis of how this happened, I recommend “How the Taliban Overran the Afghan Army, Built by the U.S. Over 20 Years,” by Yaroslav Trofimov in the Wall Street Journal (Subscriptio may be required.) Here’s an excerpt:
When U.S. forces were still operating here, the Afghan government sought to maximize its presence through the country’s far-flung countryside, maintaining more than 200 bases and outposts that could be resupplied only by air. Extending government operations to the most of Afghanistan’s more than 400 districts has long been the main pillar of America’s counterinsurgency strategy.
Mr. Ghani had ample warning of the American departure after the Trump administration signed the February 2020 agreement with the Taliban that called on all U.S. forces and contractors to leave by May 2021. Yet, the Afghan government failed to adjust its military footprint to match the new reality. Many officials didn’t believe in their hearts that the Americans would actually leave.
“Politically it was suicide to leave certain regions, and to concentrate on certain others, and that made the Afghan army overstretched and critically dependent on close air support for logistics, medevac and combat operations,” Afghan Foreign Minister Haneef Atmar, who previously served as national-security adviser and interior minister, said in an interview.
The ballyhooed American pullout ultimately was the underlying cause, signaling to all those who were fighting for their country that they no longer would have our support. For them, the choice was death or surrendering and living under an insane regime. Great choice, that.