- - Wednesday, August 25, 2021

For 50 years, Joe Biden’s had a reputation for being on the wrong side of foreign policy. Not weeks after his decision to continue withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan absent sufficient strategic planning, the Biden-led departure has proved unthinkably horrific.

Defying many of his aides, who warned of the risks of withdrawing under such circumstances, America’s commander in chief has now subjected the Afghan people to an unrelenting, radicalized force of terror. Ryan Crocker, Obama’s former ambassador to Afghanistan, called Biden’s first decisive foreign policy act as President “damning.”  

Reminiscent of how the allied powers in World War II left Czechoslovakia to the Nazis, Mr. Biden’s shameful moral abandonment of America’s responsibility will have drastic ramifications, not only in Asia and the Middle East but globally. Few argue that the United States should have stayed in Afghanistan for 20 years, let alone interminably more. Still, our incompetent evacuation and America’s subsequent collapse as a reliable partner will have 2nd and 3rd order consequences. And as our superpower status continues to erode, millions of innocent men and women in Afghanistan will now be enslaved under Islamic law. Vacuums will be filled and fought over by Russia and China as Iran continues to gain ascendancy in the region. China will take advantage of America’s weakened status and make seminal moves against Taiwan, as they have already threatened to do. 

A civil war will erupt between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance, whose leaders have already begun rallying to fight the terrorist outfit. Al-Qaeda, which the Taliban has been harboring for decades, will be reinvigorated throughout the world, as will Pakistan’s extremist forces. This, while Mr. Biden continues to pretend the nuclear-equipped country is an ally of the West. There will likely be another attack on our soil by Al Qaeda, in which case we will likely re-deploy to Afghanistan. Isn’t irony a gas? And as the balance of terror in the region shifts, Israel will be even more existentially threatened than they currently are. Perhaps for the first time, the Gulf Cooperation Council will also be existentially threatened, as will the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. 

Consider the absurdity of America’s position now. There were only 2500 troops in Afghanistan. To assist with the evacuation, Biden is sending in roughly 6,000 more. A fully equipped Taliban now surround these brave soldiers. Instead of bombing military bases before the Taliban could acquire guns, ammunition, vehicles, and Black Hawk helicopters, we have allowed the jihadists a full-blown military, not to mention access to multiple biometric databases containing information on the identities of Afghan allies who aided coalition forces. Even worse, there are still an estimated 20,000 to 80,000 Americans and their Afghan supporters trapped there. How are they getting out? 



The worst part of all of this is that it could have easily been prevented. That’s not to say we had to remain in Afghanistan to avoid the disaster we’re in now. Quite the contrary, American troops could have vacated once it became known that Osama Bin Laden was in Pakistan all those years ago. But to withdraw in this manner, foregoing an orderly transfer of power and public engagement of a transition process, with no formal handoff to the Afghani government and no reserve force, is shameful, especially when you consider that American still has a contingent of 700 troops in Kosovo, 28,000 in South Korea, and God knows how many in air force bases in Germany. Long after the Iron Curtain has come down, we are still “protecting” Europe, allowing them to skirt defense spending as they take advantage of the world order. Fine. But we should have learned early on that a Marshall Plan wouldn’t work in the Middle East. We saw it in Lebanon. We saw it in Iraq. And we’re seeing it again now. Instead of working with genuine Muslim reformers to develop a forward strategy of ‘muscular liberalism’ against the international threat of political Islam, we repeat the same mistakes, emboldening our enemies.

It’s no secret that our “nation-building” in Afghanistan largely satisfied the elite – scores of people got wealthy, including contractors parasitizing off the American military and the executive corps of the military themselves. So too did the Afghan president, acquiring four cars and cash flowing out the window, while our own government deliberately ignored his corruption. Contrary to Biden’s repeated lie that the Afghans were simply unwilling to fight and un-amenable to being trained, roughly 57,000 Afghan soldiers have died in combat hunting the Taliban since 2015. This includes more than 2,600 this year. So, what went wrong? What Mr. Biden isn’t telling you is that the Afghan army depends on American intelligence, on our ability to feedback information when they are out on missions. They also depend on American airstrikes, particularly in the eastern and northern provinces, where the Taliban has been hiding. Taking away air support and American input, essentially overnight, after creating tense facts on the ground, has, no doubt, eroded the Afghan soldier’s sense of purpose to defend his country. 

On the training front, what Mr. Biden failed to tell us is that there is usually significant turnover when training an army. In this case, out of an Afghan force of 185,000 men (Mr. Biden initially lied and said there were 300,000), 25 percent did not stay, for a whole swath of reasons, including not wanting to be separated from their families, being frightened of treacherous encounters, or secretly sympathizing with the Taliban. Mr. Biden also hid from us that part of the two trillion spent in Afghanistan included educating Afghanis in gender identity politics - woke programming that the locals inevitably resisted, creating tension with their American overseers.

It’s hard to make any excuses for Mr. Biden’s old age and cognitive decline at this point. His lack of planning and disregard for those who have fallen undermine his efforts to push an agenda on any other front. He certainly can no longer make any serious claim to be concerned for the universal principles of human rights. He has lost the moral high ground, creating a deficit of trust among even our smallest allied nations.

What a moment this is in our history.

• Dr. Zuhdi Jasser is the American Islamic Forum for Democracy president, co-founder of the Muslim Reform Movement, and a former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander. Karys Rhea is a writer and researcher living in Brooklyn.

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