This is my second recent piece based primarily on an establishment media news source. It appears that as we get farther away from the Trump presidency, more establishment figures are noting the failures of the current Biden administration. In this case, unfavorably comparing Biden to Trump with regards to the dangerously reckless Afghanistan withdrawal.
And in this case, I agree. Trump was horribly, recklessly, and dangerously wrong on rapidly withdrawing from Afghanistan, and so is Biden. And the more we learn of this Biden strategic fiasco, the worse it looks.
While nominally conservative, Max Boot is notoriously anti-Trump, so his criticism of President Biden’s Afghan withdrawal holds considerable weight.
In his Washington Post (WP) piece, Biden’s exit from Afghanistan has been very Trumpy, Boot writes:
In Europe, President Biden is being lauded as the anti-Trump. But in his first major foreign policy decision as president — the pullout from Afghanistan — he acted in a very Trumpy fashion. Which is to say, he made an impetuous, ideological decision without adequate planning or preparation. The more we know, the worse it looks.
To recap how we got here: Then-President Donald Trump signed the worst deal of the century with the Taliban in 2020. The United States agreed to pull all of its troops out of Afghanistan within 14 months and to force the Afghan government to release thousands of Taliban prisoners. One of the few promises the Taliban made in return — “not to cooperate with groups or individuals threatening the security of the United States and its allies” — has already been violated. The United Nations reports that the Taliban remains “closely aligned” with al-Qaeda.
Because the Taliban is not fulfilling its side of the bargain, Biden should have kept the 2,500 to 3,500 U.S. troops who serve as invaluable advisers for Afghan forces. Instead, Biden announced on April 14 a withdrawal to be completed by Sept. 11. The clumsy symbolism — rewarding al-Qaeda’s allies on the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks — recalled Trump’s harebrained plan to meet with Taliban leaders around Sept. 11, 2019.
Military leaders urged Biden to leave a few thousand U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Biden ignored them — just as Trump so often ignored expert advice. The Post reports Biden spoke only once with the top U.S. commander in Kabul via a video feed before announcing a pullout. He hardly consulted with allies either, forcing them to pull their own troops because they couldn’t stay without us.
No agreement was negotiated beforehand with either Pakistan or one of Afghanistan’s neighbors in Central Asia to base U.S. aircraft. Flying drones or manned aircraft from the Persian Gulf region will be costly and risky and leave little loiter time over Afghanistan. As a result, the New York Times reports, the CIA is left with “few good options” to “gather intelligence and carry out counterterrorism strikes.”
The situation is especially dire because the Biden administration appears intent on forcing the withdrawal of U.S. contractors who keep Afghan military aircraft flying. “Without the contractors’ help,” NBC News reports, “Afghan forces will no longer be able to keep dozens of fighter planes, cargo aircraft, U.S.-made helicopters and drones flying for more than a few more months, according to military experts and a recent Defense Department inspector general’s report.” If Afghan forces are denied air cover — which they have come to rely upon — the risk of a Taliban victory increases exponentially.
For all these reasons, and many, many more, Biden’s horribly reckless Afghan withdrawal is as bad or worse than the plan Trump had. And there really is no valid strategic, moral, or military justification for Biden doing it.
An orderly, well-planned withdrawal, leaving some troops in place, maintaining Bagram Air Base, and continuing to provide air support, and allowing contractors to continue supporting the Afghan military, would have been the sensible, moral, strategically sound, and anti-Trump approach.
But as it is now, Biden’s horrible pullout should go down as one of the worst U.S. foreign policy decisions of recent times, equaling, if not surpassing, the decision to invade Iraq in 2003.
Read the entire piece by Max Boot in the Washington Post here.
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