- - Thursday, April 29, 2021

Some problems offer an array of solutions, but none of them satisfactory. In attempting to resolve long-standing U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan, President Biden has managed, regrettably, to pick the worst possible course of action, one that is likely to result in needless American deaths.

Mr. Biden has decided to delay the withdrawal of U.S. forces, numbering 2,500, from the South Asian mountain nation beyond the May 1 date President Trump negotiated with the Afghan rebel Taliban. While the remaining 7,100 NATO troops of the Resolution Support Mission are due to depart on schedule, Mr. Biden has settled on a plan to end American presence there on Sept. 11, 2021 — the 20th anniversary of the shocking attacks on the American homeland that Osama bin Laden orchestrated from Afghanistan.

After two long decades, why does it matter whether the U.S. pulls out by May or September? The delay is a big deal to the Taliban. The rebel organization dialed down its attacks on Americans following the February 2020 withdrawal agreement with Mr. Trump, but rebel leaders have vowed to ramp up their attacks on U.S. forces after the May 1 deadline.

Even more ominous, the Pentagon announced contingency plans last week to deploy additional troops to the region. “It’s entirely possible that there will be a temporary increase of some ground forces and enablers, not just for force protection, but also for logistical and engineering support that will have to go into Afghanistan to help us make sure this drawdown gets done on the timeline and in a safe, orderly way,” says Defense Press Secretary John Kirby.

Donald Trump was thrashed by the Washington media for pulling the United States out of the international agreements that comprised Barack Obama’s legacy: the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran Nuclear Deal. Mr. Trump’s decisions may have cost American credibility with the global diplomatic establishment, but Mr. Biden’s double-dealing could cost American lives.

In a statement, Mr. Trump urged the successor to reconsider his plan to delay the U.S. pullout: “September 11 represents a very sad event and period for our country and should remain a day of reflection and remembrance honoring those great souls we lost.” Most Americans who lived through that horrific day and relive it each year would agree with the former president.

Politics and theatrics are inseparable in the modern era, and the president of the United States is always on the scout for an influential role to play on the global stage. On its face, Mr. Biden’s decision to nix the May 1 U.S. withdrawal date appears to have no other purpose than to trade one public-relations opportunity for a grander one on 9/11.

In the process, the president is sadly setting up U.S. forces for renewed guerrilla attacks by Taliban forces. Any American lives lost beyond May 1 should be on Mr. Biden’s conscience.

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