ARESO / QUIJANO
Biden to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan on September 11
After a brilliant start that has restored serenity to citizens and during which significant steps have been taken towards a new economic and social model that promises to make this country more prosperous and fairer, President Joe Biden has made his first major mistake. . The announcement of the withdrawal of the last American troops from Afghanistan not only in all likelihood condemns that country to a return to the dark days of Taliban control, but sends a dangerous message to America's allies and enemies of democracy and democracy. of the freedom on the degree of commitment of this Administration with the defense of the values that it represents.
The withdrawal from Afghanistan may seem logical if one takes into account the failure of the military operation that began almost twenty years ago with the aim of catching the perpetrators of the attacks of September 11, 2001 and fighting terrorism. After thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars invested, the US failed to defeat the Taliban or make significant progress in weakening Islamic extremism. It would seem absurd, therefore, to prolong a failed mission. "We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan in the hope of creating ideal conditions for withdrawal and expecting a different outcome,"Biden said last week when announcing his intention that precisely after two decades of the attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon, no American soldier is left on the ground in Afghanistan.
This decision was also justified by the White House as the fulfillment of an agreement reached by former President Donald Trump with the Taliban leaders to withdraw the troops in May as an essential condition to negotiate a peace agreement.
"Extending our presence beyond May without an exit plan would have led us to prolong the war against the Taliban," a senior official told reporters.
Let's start from this last argument to verify the scant justification for Biden's decision and the dire consequences it may have, especially for Afghanistan - with whose people the United States has a strong moral commitment, since it has had it fighting alongside it at a high level. price of human lives over many years - but not just for Afghanistan.
Maintaining a signed pledge by Trump is something that, as Michael Gerson says in
The Washington Post
, would have surprised Trump himself. American soldiers in Afghanistan are, in effect, in danger of being attacked by the Taliban, but it is necessary to consider whether it is worth taking that risk to extend a military presence that has other benefits. The risk is, in the first place, perfectly acceptable for the United States, which has suffered an average of 20 casualties per year since 2015, approximately the same number of deaths that its armed forces record in maneuvers and training in the same period. Furthermore, a peace agreement with a group of the Taliban nature does not carry an absolute guarantee that there will be no further attacks in the future.
The US military effort in Afghanistan is modest. Around 3,000 soldiers are currently there dedicated to supporting the Afghan Army with training and education. The war itself was formally concluded in 2014 by President Barack Obama and, since then, the US presence has primarily been aimed at demonstrating support for the Kabul government in the face of the Taliban threat. Although the initial objective of the war was not that, the truth is that the US deployment has served, within enormous difficulties, to favor a certain improvement in the conditions of life in Afghanistan, including the enjoyment of quotas of freedom and democracy that do not have been common in the history of the country.
Now there is a very high risk that the withdrawal of the US military will allow the Taliban to regain power, which will surely reestablish the conditions of oppression, especially against women, who are part of their ideology and that we already knew in the past. The US withdrawal would surely entail a similar decision on the part of NATO, which has another 7,000 soldiers deployed in that country. And the Afghan Army alone appears incapable of containing the foreseeable advance of the Taliban.
The exhaustion of public opinion and of the American rulers themselves after so many years and efforts invested in Afghanistan is understandable. But international crises are not subject to precise deadlines. Time itself cannot be a reason to leave that country, any more than it is to decide the US military presence in Europe.
It is also true that international politics is not decided by humanitarian issues and that the United States has more pressing priorities than the fate of 40 million Afghans. Biden mentioned China and the rebuilding of the national economy as examples. But it is also not understood that leaving the ground clear for the Taliban to regain power and return to using Afghanistan as a platform for the promotion of terrorism is consistent with the defense of the national interests of the United States.
Washington no longer has the resources or the vocation to be the world's policeman. But Afghanistan is a case where a little effort can make the difference between right and wrong. No one is asking the United States to launch a new war to protect Afghans, but the simple fact of continuing with its bases there can give that population hope. On the other hand, who knows if the danger of the US having to enter a new war would not be greater after the return of the Taliban to power.
Even more serious is the decision to leave Afghanistan when viewed strategically. It would be useful to know what the Ukrainians who are attending the deployment of tens of thousands of Russian troops on their border thought upon hearing this news. Or the Taiwanese who observe the constant strengthening of China's armed forces. Or any other society that still trusts the role that the United States can play as a relief force against tyranny. What can Venezuela expect?
Continuing in Afghanistan was not a popular decision. This country is tired of that conflict and does not clearly see the benefits of keeping troops there. This is how Trump understood it, who rushed to negotiate with the Taliban to save face. Trump was the genius of easy fixes. But Biden has shown rigor and veracity from day one. He did not deceive anyone about the toughness of the battle against COVID or about the price of the war against inequality. In both cases, he took risks to do the most responsible thing: mobilize the nation against the virus and allocate huge resources to generate work and distribute wealth. In the case of Afghanistan, the most responsible thing was to explain to the Americans the need to stay.