Joe Biden has changed an agreement that the Trump administration made with the Taliban in Afghanistan: instead of withdrawal by May 1, he says US troops are to remain in Afghanistan until September 11. He is scheduled to make the formal anouncement on Wednesday. It would have been difficult to get them all out by May 1, according to US officials, but an “orderly withdrawal” might be accomplished by September 11. There are approximately 2,500 US troops, and 7,000 coalition troops in country at this time. The real question is, what happens then?
A person familiar with the deliberations told the Washington Post that if the U.S. pushed back its May 1 withdrawal deadline without a clear exit plan by another time “we will be back at war with the Taliban, and that was not something President Biden believed was in the national interest … We’re going to zero troops by September.”
Question: were we EVER actually out of war with the Taliban?
There is disagreement as well:
A lot of American blood has been shed in the “nation’s longest war.” The Taliban have been woefully negligent in their end of the bargain brokered by the Trump Administration. They have continued their violent actions in spite of agreeing to stop, and have repeatedly refused to negotiate with the Afghan government, which they view as a puppet of the US.
Officials also noted that there is little evidence in recent months that the Taliban fighters are prepared to lay down their arms and take up diplomatic posts with the new government, which was supposed to be a key part of the peace deal and May 1 withdrawal…
…”Arbitrary deadlines would likely put our troops in danger, jeopardize all the progress we’ve made, and lead to civil war in Afghanistan—and create a breeding ground for international terrorists,” said the Senate Armed Services Committee’s ranking member, Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla. “We’re talking about protecting American lives here.”
The issue here is the actual word that came from Biden’s lips:
It’s going to be hard to meet the May 1 deadline. Just in terms of tactical reasons, it’s hard to get those troops out. And if we leave, we’re going to do so in a safe and orderly way.
Biden in late March 2021
It’s the word “if” that brings a question.
Will the Taliban take over Afghanistan after we leave? Possibly, and it will depend on whether the coalition nations choose to keep their troops involved. It won’t be our problem anymore IF we leave. President Trump wanted an end to the forever war because of its tremendous human cost. Biden may or may not end it. We can hope so, but Afghanistan’s ability to hold off the jihadists is up in the air. As we have said before, negotiating with the Taliban is like negotiating with a pit viper.
“Afghan security forces are nowhere near achieving self-sufficiency, as they cannot maintain their equipment, manage their supply chains or train new soldiers, pilots and policemen.”
SIGAR- Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction
Biden is scheduled to make the formal announcment of a September 11th withdrawal on Wednesday. We’ll have to see if he follows through. Without note cards and cheat sheets, that is.
Featured photo: 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division Public Affairs by Sgt Mike MacLeod
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Author: Faye Higbee
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