Afghanistan’s Fall: The Wider Danger

Afghanistan’s Fall: The Wider Danger


More than just Afghanistan has been endangered by Biden’s feckless retreat.

While America was planning to withdraw soon from Afghanistan, it could have been done, as the Trump Administration had proposed, in an orderly manner, leaving behind sufficient strength, particularly air power and special forces, that would have prevented a Taliban takeover.

But the Biden Administration chose a different path. First they announced a specific departure deadline, September 11 of this year, which was then shortened to August 31. Then it chose to not leave in place sufficient force to deter the Taliban, specifically, Bagram air base. These strategic mistakes enabled the Taliban to convince the population’s key local leaders that their victory was imminent and inevitable.  It demoralized the Kabul government and its army. All of this led to, according  to General David Petraeus, the retired U.S. Commanding General in Afghanistan and former CIA chief, a “psychological collapse” that would result when the Afghanistan military would be “unable to uphold the level of support they are accustomed to’ when fighting the Taliban.”

Writing for The Hill, Laura Kelly quotes retired Lt. Gen. David Barno, another former U.S. commander in Afghanistan and now a visiting professor of strategic studies at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies: “I think this U.S. withdrawal, and the abrupt way in which it is being executed in the face of rapid Taliban gains, will have an even deeper impact than the U.S. departure from Vietnam in 1975, and far greater than the (temporary) 2011 withdrawal from Iraq,”

Far more than just the war-torn nation of Afghanistan has been lost.  The precipitous, incompetent and somewhat treacherous manner in which this was done has frightened our allies into worrying about whether the United States will live up to its obligations elsewhere.  It cannot help but embolden China and Russia in their goals of invading Taiwan and Ukraine.  Putin and Xi Jing Ping will legitimately wonder whether a nation that turns tail and runs from a conflict commenced to protect itself from another major terrorist attack will actually move to defend allied nations across the globe.

It gets even more worrisome.  Just across the border is Pakistan, a nation that has a considerable array of nuclear weapons. The Taliban already has a considerable presence there.  Freed from concerns about American forces back in Afghanistan, there is little to prevent it from moving swiftly to steal that atomic arsenal. If that happens, expect an attack on American soil that would make the September 11, 2001 assault, as utterly horrible as it was, look like a mere flash in the pan.

Biden’s weakness in Afghanistan does not exist in a vacuum. He utterly surrendered to Russia in the Nord Stream Pipeline dispute. He has proposed a Pentagon budget that is an actual reduction of the military’s spending power after accounting for inflation. He has refused to defend America’s southern border. His appointees at the Department of Defense and the leadership of the individual armed services declare that addressing transgender and racial issues are their main focus.  All this is being done at a time when China engages in an unprecedented buildup of its nuclear and conventional forces. It now has a larger navy than the United States. Russia’s Putin continues to occupy Crimea, undermines Eastern European nations, and threatens further assaults on Ukraine. Moscow has developed and deployed massive new strategic and battlefield nuclear weapons of unmatched strength.

Just 90 miles from America’s shore, an oppressive Cuban regime, which once sought to instigate a nuclear war, is faced with a freedom movement, which Biden has refused to support.

Weakness invites war. Unless the Biden Administration rapidly changes course, the collapse of Afghanistan will only be the beginning of dramatic events to come.

Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy and Government.

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