By the time this article is published, the Taliban will be fully in control of Afghanistan. In Washington, D.C., there will be the blame game; indeed, there is plenty to go around. However, I want to focus on the current president, Biden, and the former president, Trump.
They may not have agreed on many things, but one of the things that they did agree on was that American troops had to get out of Afghanistan as soon as possible, no matter what the cost.
Trump started the process with his “Munich moment,” by making a deal with the Taliban that United States troops will withdraw by May 1, 2021. The Afghan government was not part of talks. The message was clear that the United States government had no confidence that the current Afghan government could hold the country once the American soldiers left. That was why they dealt directly with the Taliban. Both the Taliban and the Afghans got the message.
Trump never had a chance to finish the job since he lost the election. Biden could have tried to get out of the deal, since the Taliban did not hold up their end of the bargain. Instead, Biden just pushed the date back to September 11, 2021. The Taliban and Afghans saw the handwriting on the wall. The Taliban moved decisively and put maximum pressure on the Afghan military. The military fell apart.
What we are left with is the Taliban back in control after 20 years. They are better armed because of the captured weapons that the Americans had provided the Afghan army during the past twenty years.
This did not have to happen. I blame it on the Biden and Trump administrations, who considered Afghanistan to be another Vietnam and decided it was time to get out.
Both Biden and Trump did not serve in Vietnam because of medical exemptions. It is debatable how legitimate the reasons were. However, they were not the only ones. I doubt either one had any desire to have been sent over to fight.
The Pentagon papers that were released in 1971 showed that the military leadership had lied to the country when they said that the war was winnable. The reason for the war was to stop communist expansion. America lost the war, Vietnam became communist, and the world did not come to an end.
To Biden and Trump, Afghanistan was the twenty-first century version of Vietnam.
However, there were significant differences. American troops had significantly drawn down years ago in Afghanistan without any major loss of territory. Since December 31, 2014, American soldiers - along with NATO - had been more in an advisory role. On that date, the Afghan forces officially took over the defense of the country. Since then, the highest number of deaths in one year was 24, in 2019. The American and NATO forces’ presence helped keep up the morale of the Afghan forces as well as being a check on the Taliban. Also, the number of casualties in Afghanistan over twenty years pales in numbers to Vietnam. There were 2,448 soldiers killed in Afghanistan and 58,220 in Vietnam. Thus, there was no need to get out now.
Biden wanted to get out of Afghanistan before the twentieth anniversary of 9/11 because he wanted to show progress. Instead, the result is that the Taliban, the group that sheltered the terrorists, are now back in power.
The polls indicated that most Americans wanted us to leave Afghanistan. This is no surprise, since Trump and many of his supporters believe that “America first” means America not being involved in foreign wars, as well as the progressives who have trouble finding a war that America should be participating in. American foreign policy should not be decided based on polls. That is why we have trained experts. If we want to run our policy based on polls, then we should shut down the State Department and the National Security Agency and just hire some pollsters.
The Taliban, now having regained control, will rule as ruthlessly as they did more than twenty years ago when they took over the country then. There will be many atrocities that will shock the world. The Taliban will also let ISIS and other terrorist organizations gain a foothold in the country.
Just like with Iraq, the United States will have to go back to clean up the mess it caused by leaving. This will result in more casualties than if they had never left.
Great job, Trump and Biden.