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MAY 2021

Exiting Afghanistan: Biden Sets The Date

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Exiting Afghanistan: Biden Sets The Date

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Written by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

It had to be symbolic, and was represented as such.  Forces of the United States will be leaving Afghanistan on September 11 after two decades of violent occupation, though for a good deal of this stretch, US forces were, at best, failed democracy builders, at worst, violent tenants.

In his April 14 speech, President Joe Biden made the point that should have long been evident: that Washington could not “continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan hoping to create the ideal conditions for our withdrawal, expecting a different result.”  As if to concede to the broader failure of the exercise, “the terror threat” had flourished, being now present “in many places”.  To keep “thousands of troops grounded and concentrated in just one country at a cost of billions each year makes little sense to me and to our leaders.”

For such a long stay, the objectives have been far from convincing.  The US presence in Afghanistan should focus “on the reason we went there in the first place: to ensure Afghanistan would not be used as a base from which to attack our homeland again.  We did that.  We accomplished that objective.” A debacle is dressed up in the robes of necessity, the original purpose being to “root out al Qaeda” in 2001 and “to prevent future terrorist attacks against the United States planned from Afghanistan.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is marshalling European leaders to aid in the withdrawal effort.  “I am here,” he stated at NATO’s Belgium headquarters, “to work closely with our allies, with the secretary general, on the principle that we have established from the start, ‘In together, adapt together and out together’.”  There have been few times in history, perhaps with the exception of the Vietnam War, where defeat has been given such an unremarkable cover.

Little improvement on this impression was made at a meeting between Blinken and Abdullah Abdullah, chair of the Afghanistan High Commission for National Reconciliation.  According to State Department spokesperson Ned Price, the secretary “reiterated the US commitment to the peace process and that we will use our full diplomatic, economic, and humanitarian toolkit to support the future the Afghan people want, including the gains made by Afghan women.”

At the US embassy in Kabul, Blinken made an assortment of weak assurances about “America’s commitment to an enduring partnership with Afghanistan and the Afghan people.”  Despite the troops leaving the country, the “security partnership will endure.”  There was “strong bipartisan support for that commitment to the Afghan Security Forces.”  There would be oodles of diplomacy, economic investment and development assistance.  And, as for the Taliban, joyfully lurking in the wings to assume power, Blinken had this assessment: “It’s very important that the Taliban recognize that it will never be legitimate and it will never be durable if it rejects a political process and tries to take the country by force.”

A better, and more accurate sense of attitudes to Kabul could be gathered in the remarks of a senior Biden official, as reported in the Washington Post.  “The reality is that the United States has big strategic interests in the world…. Afghanistan just does not rise to the level of those other threats at this point.”  Afghanistan, in time, will be discarded like strategic refuse.

Critics invariably assume various aspects of the imperial pose: to leave the country is to surrender a policing function, to encourage enemies, to reverse any gains (shallow as they are), to lay the grounds for the need for potential re-engagement.  An erroneous link is thereby encouraged linking US national security interests with the desperate ruination that has afflicted a State that has not seen peace in decades. For its part, the US contribution to that ruination has been, along with its coalition allies, far from negligible.

Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell preached that the withdrawal was “a grave mistake,” a reminder that such foolish decisions had been made before.  “Ten years ago, when President Obama let politics dictate the terms of our involvement in Iraq, those failed decisions invited the rise of ISIS.”  For McConnell, battling terrorism remained a central purpose for keeping boots on the much trodden ground of Afghanistan.  “A reckless pullback like this would abandon our Afghan, regional, and NATO partners in a shared fight against terrorists we have not yet won.”

In March, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, told a National Security Council Principal Committee meeting that withdrawing would see women’s rights return “to the Stone Age”.  Leaving was also not advisable, given “all the blood and treasure spent”.  (Others at the meeting felt that Milley’s arguments had the soft stuffing of emotion rather than firm logic.)

The Washington Post, in a vein similar to that of McConnell and Milley, resorted to the conventional betrayal thesis: leaving was “an abandonment of those Afghans who believed in building a democracy that guaranteed basic human rights”.  It would also mean nullifying “the sacrifices of the American servicemen who were killed or wounded in that mission.”  Little thought is given to the shallow, corruption saturated regime in Kabul that can barely claim any semblance of legitimacy beyond the sponsorship of external powers.

The director of the Central Intelligence Agency, William Burns, takes a more prosaic, utilitarian line.  Leaving Afghanistan will, he explained at a hearing of a Senate Intelligence Committee on global threats, drain the intelligence pool.  “When the time comes for the US military to withdraw, the US government’s ability to collect and act on threats will diminish.  That’s simply a fact.”

The pessimists from the National Review are also full of warning.  Jim Geraghty is almost shrill in worrying what the media headline, “Taliban Rule Afghanistan Again” will do in spurring on “global Islamist jihadism,” claiming that, “[a] bad withdrawal only sets up the need for more combat in the future.”  Kevin Williamson is at least accurate on one point: Afghanistan, for the US, is a clear picture of “what failure looks like.  What success is going to look like, we still don’t know.”  Nor, it would seem, ever will.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: bkampmark@gmail.com

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23 comments

  1. BMWA1 says:

    By “Biden ” is SF making reference to President Kliden?

  2. klove and light says:

    yeah yeah…may 1 september 11 jan3…… june7 2022….. feb.1 2023……….

    attack the criminal paedophile zionist slaves

  3. johnny rotten says:

    All the premises are false:
    11/9 was an internal operation
    Global Islamist Jihadism was a creation of the West
    The monopoly of the opium market has always been the real reason
    NATO’s withdrawal is not a victory but the sign of financial, political and military incapacity in which today the West is

    Everything else is BS.

    1. Ashok Varma says:

      So-called 911 was part of the Yinon plan to destroy any Arab state that posed a challenge to Zionism. Unfortunately, Russia was too weak then and China was too busy expanding its economy to have stopped the US warmongers. The Chinese deliberately led the stupid Americans into a strategic disaster and a death of thousand cuts. While the hubris laden Americans bled to death in totally counter productive wars of no value to them, China rose to become a superpower. History is unforgiving and exposed the Americans as the most idiotic warmongers on the planet. KARMA.

  4. Ashok Varma says:

    US squandered trillions on a 20 year lost war for Zionism. Human life has no meaning for sub-human Americans, but they have wrecked their bankrupt economy and given the world to China on a silver platter. Now they are stoking conflicts in Ukraine and Syria for Jews and will lose there too.

    1. Ivan Freely says:

      The funny thing is that China didn’t have to do much. Just silently stand there on the sidelines looking at you with a smile and a briefcase stuffed with money.

      1. Alekai Mordechai says:

        Once China steps in ISIS will commence its rampage all across Afghanistan. Taliban will be left in the lurch.

        It was during Obama’s tenure US withdrawn its troops (2009) and entered Iraq (2014).

        Same thing is waiting to happen. If flailing Biden survives in 2nd tenure.

        1. Ahson says:

          talibunnies got no hope in hell of ever coming to power again. Iran with both Russia and China will genocide them if they ever try to get funny again. Even India will back this cull if it goes down to that level. The 250k strong ANA is well trained and a ruthless army now. Iran’s been toying with the idea of establishing an Afghan Hezb in Kabul to secure its interests.

          1. Alekai Mordechai says:

            Thought iran had dibs on Taliban’s survival in Afghanistan.

          2. Ahson says:

            Why? Don’t you recall Iran backing the majority Persian speaking Northern Alliance throughout the 80’s and 90’s? don’t you recall the talibunny massacre of Iranian diplomats in 1998 (Mazar Sharif)?……Pashtu talibunny wahabbi basturds are Paki backed. How old are you?

  5. Ivan Freely says:

    I don’t believe the US would leave. Maybe the uniformed troops would but not the private contractors.

    1. Jihadi Colin says:

      Of course the mercenaries and the CIA won’t leave. Until they are forced to run at Takiban gunpoint.

      Want to bet that between now and 11 September, “ISIS” is going to start launching so many attacks in Afghanistan that the withdrawal will have to be cancelled? In the interests of “fighting ISIS”, y’know.

      1. Ivan Freely says:

        Don’t have to bet. ISIS is already in Afghanistan, Nangarhar Province. Years ago there were reports of unmarked air transports delivering ISIS to Afghanistan. Since then there’s been sporadic bombings throughout Nangarhar.

  6. Jihadi Colin says:

    Since the Taliban were and are and have always been a purely Afghan Pashtun movement with zero international ambition, the claim that “international jihadism” (which, by the way, the Taliban have been fighting since it declared war on ISIS six years ) will benefit is hogwash. However I doubt 99% of the intended recipients of the hogwash care that it is hogwash.

    1. Pave Way IV says:

      Us Americans will lap up the hogwash since most have no idea what a Pashtun is or why they want us to GTFO of their country.

      It’s also nice that Biden figures he can move the goalposts whenever it suits his deep state overlords, but the Taliban already agreed to and are expecting a complete withdrawal by May 1st. They have threatened to resume attacks and kill any Americans still in Afghanistan after May 1st. Biden’s proclamation is meaningless to them. Any aluminum coffins coming back to the U.S. will be used to justify an even longer presence and probably more troops. Biden’s requisite blood sacrifice for his masters eternal Afghan war. I don’t think he even realizes the inevitable consequences of his action.

      1. Johnnydadda says:

        Australia announced that it would follow the Yanks lead and withdraw its “approximately 80 troops” in Sept.as if the May 1st agreement didn’t exist

        The core business of the ADF “will always be the application of lethal violence in the defence of our values, sovereignty and interests”, according to the newly installed Assistant Defence Minister, Andrew Hastie (officer in charge of troops who collected the hands of dead insurgents).

        About 50 ADF troops are curently being investigated for war crimes, but the only person facing prison as a result of uncovering these crimes is the whistleblower.

        What are Australia’s interests in Afghanistan?

  7. Captain Freedom says:

    Exit Afghanistan, enter Ukropistan

  8. verner says:

    they would have saved an awfull lot of money had they faced facts say 11 years ago and abandoned the afghanistan venture. but no stupidity persisted and here they are, with load and loads of debt and absolutely nothing to show for the trillions wasted. how pathetic and certified stupidity only the disunited states of insufferable fools can excel in.

    1. Jihadi Colin says:

      Certain people and companies made and want to go on making a lot of money.

  9. Andreas says:

    The article left out mention of the opium trade and how this will be impacted by the departure of the mutts. Has this been why the Ziocorporatists have been there this long, that is to get their cut, and where will the money flow now?

    1. BMWA1 says:

      I think that the intel SUB-SYSTEM within the massive (but not monolithic) US Govt. apparatus has a stake in this, but that stake is not held by other departments

  10. cechas vodobenikov says:

    nation of stupefied robots install senile monolingual illiterate prez
    according to most recent US dept of education study 25,000 US university graduates: 69% NOT English proficient
    Asians-54% and improving
    blacks–33% improving
    whites/latino university grads less proficient and declining
    a nation that has always been comprised of lowest most incompetent classes from civilized nations—with the exception of Jews, Russians
    ‘White Trash: The 400 Year Untold History of Class in America’. Nancy Isenberg

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