US, NATO Withdraws Troops from Unstable Afghanistan
President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he will begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan on May 1 to end America’s longest war, rejecting calls for U.S. forces to stay to ensure a peaceful resolution to that nation’s grinding internal conflict.
In a White House speech, Mr. Biden acknowledged that U.S. objectives in Afghanistan had become “increasingly unclear” over the past decade. He set a deadline for withdrawing all 2,500 U.S. troops remaining in Afghanistan by Sept. 11, exactly 20 years after al Qaeda’s attacks on the United States that triggered the war.
But by pulling out without a clear victory, the United States opens itself to criticism that a withdrawal represents a de facto admission of failure for American military strategy.
It was never meant to be a multi-generational undertaking. We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives,” Biden said, noting that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by American forces in 2011 and saying that organization has been “degraded” in Afghanistan.
And it’s time to end the forever war, Mr. Biden added.
The situation in the Afghanistan is far from stable. Few hours before Mr. Biden's announcement Taliban terrorists attacked the officials of the Afghan national government in Baraqi Baraq in the Logan province. A video footage showed three men in military uniforms opening machine-gun fire at the windows of the office.
Virtually all observers say the Taliban have failed to live up to their promises under the deal. While no longer directly attacking U.S. and allied forces, the radical Islamist group has accelerated its war on Afghan security forces, and Pentagon assessments have found that members of the group still have a working relationship with al Qaeda.
ISIS and al Qaeda still have significant presences inside Afghanistan, and much of the country outside of the major cities
is no longer under control of the Kabul government. Even as White House officials were previewing Mr. Biden’s plan, The Associated Press reported that a suicide car bombing killed at least three civilians in Afghanistan’s Farah province and at least 10 government security troops were killed in fighting in the country’s north.
Mr. Biden seems to have made a decision to essentially disregard those factors and set aside the broader situation on ground in Afghanistan. Instead, he aims to fulfill the campaign promise and foreign policy goal he shared with Mr. Trump: to end a war that critics say no longer has a clear rationale or popular support.
This is not conditions-based. The president has judged that a conditions based approach, which has been the approach of the past two decades, is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever, a senior administration official told reporters.
The West's intelligence on terrorist threats will decrease
The former top diplomat Mr. Nicholas Burns, who took over as CIA chief last month, spoke hours before Biden announced that all remaining U.S. troops would leave Afghanistan before Sept. 11, the 20th anniversary of the al Qaeda attacks that triggered the U.S.-led invasion.
When the time comes for the U.S. military to withdraw, the U.S. government's ability to collect and act on threats will diminish. That's simply a fact, Burns said.
The American exit also will essentially end NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan. The long-running effort was led by the U.S., but about 7,500 troops from Britain, Australia, Turkey and dozens of other nations are still serving in Afghanistan. NATO officials have cautioned against a hasty U.S. withdrawal but have made clear that the future of the Afghanistan mission hinges on Mr. Biden’s decision.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and other administration officials spoke with NATO leaders Wednesday to brief them on Mr. Biden’s plan, which is expected to be formally announced Wednesday at the White House.
Pentagon should leave an small counter-terrorism force
Some Democrats celebrated the announcement while others took a more cautious approach. Republicans, however, almost universally eviscerated the decision and said Mr. Biden has opened the door to disaster with a full, unconditional pullout. A full withdrawal from Afghanistan is dumber than dirt and devilishly dangerous. President Biden will have, in essence, canceled an insurance policy against another 9/11, Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican, said in a statement. A residual counterterrorism force would be an insurance policy against the rise of radical Islam in Afghanistan that could pave the way for another attack against our homeland or our allies, Mr. Graham stated.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch Mc-Connell, Kentucky Republican, called the plan a “grave mistake,” and Rep. Michael T. McCaul of Texas, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said the administration is handing the Taliban a “total victory.”
Congressional Republicans zeroed in on the idea that the Pentagon could and should maintain a small counterterrorism force inside Afghanistan for the foreseeable future.