Biden’s fiasco in Afghanistan: “We look like deer with lanterns”


Since the retreating British troops of Major General William Elphinstone were repulsed in 1842, Foreign occupier Leaving Afghanistan under such dark clouds. After the Soviet Union withdrew in 1989, it took three years for its Kabul allies to succumb to the Mujahideen forces. Before Saigon fell into the hands of the Communist Party in 1975, it had been two years since the U.S. forces withdrew from Vietnam. Kabul fold Arrived in the Taliban three weeks before the official departure from the United States.

“We look like a deer caught by the headlights of a car,” said Matthew Burrows, a former senior CIA official who currently serves the Atlantic Council. “There is another crack in the American Empire.”

The chaotic scenes at Hamid Karzai International Airport will provide years of footage for anti-American propagandists. After two decades of fruitless nation-building, the failure of the United States has many authors, starting with George W. Bush, including Barack Obama and Donald Trump.

But as the oversight of the president End the fiasco When it happens, Joe Biden’s name will be indelibly linked with it.The question is whether he can get any foreign policy gains from Biden’s remarks by an analyst. “Edes in August”Since he was partly elected because he promised to restore power to the White House, there are also fears that the fall of Kabul will undermine Biden’s ability to advance his domestic agenda.

President Joe Biden met with his National Security Team (LR) Secretary of State Tony Blincol, Vice President Kamala Harris, National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and United Emirates President General Mark Milley to discuss the situation Afghanistan in the White House Situation Room last week © Adam Schultz/White House/ZUMA/dpa

Much depends on whether the United States can Evacuate Thousands of American civilians and tens of thousands of Afghan interpreters, repairmen, and contractors are at the airport surrounded by armed Islamists.The fact that it has It boils down to this -A group of fleeing Afghans tried to pass the perimeter of an airport controlled by the Taliban-causing damage to reputation.

Washington blamed the withdrawal plan for failing to foresee this unexpected situation. The Bagram military base is located 35 miles north of Kabul and has two runways. It was originally a safe point for an orderly evacuation. However, the U.S. forces withdrew from the base on July 4. The White House did not oppose the Pentagon’s plan to rescue the Americans with guns first, and then let the unarmed civilians leave.

Former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Steve Biegun said: “It is difficult to separate Biden’s strategic decision to leave Afghanistan from the hasty, sloppy and panic manner in which it was implemented. This may ultimately prove to be correct.” This is a heavy blow to Biden’s message of “America is back”. Everyone thinks that he will be different from Trump.”

Last week, a Taliban delegation led by the head of the negotiating team, Anas Haqqani, met with former President Hamid Karzai at an unspecified location in Afghanistan. Former Afghan government official
Last week, the Taliban delegation led by the leader of the negotiating team, Anas Haqqani, met with former President Hamid Karzai at an unspecified location in Afghanistan. Former Afghan government official © Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan/AFP

Controversial intelligence

In addition to closing Bagram first, there are three more questions about Biden’s capabilities. The first is the number of US military equipment left for the Taliban, including aircraft, hundreds of military Hummers and tens of thousands of rifles, rockets and night vision goggles.

The second question is whether Biden ignores intelligence estimates, which indicate that the Taliban can regain power faster than the 6 to 18 months that the White House said. The third is that Biden failed to fully negotiate with NATO allies on the speed and logistics of the withdrawal. In these three aspects, the final decision comes down to the president.

A former senior Pentagon official said: “This kind of withdrawal is imposed by the military, which is unbelievable.” “The U.S. military is obeying civilian orders.” The official added, blaming intelligence for what happened. Failure is also misleading. “The intelligence agency gave a series of predictions, including the worst predictions,” he said.

During a training exercise at Bagram Airport in Afghanistan, a U.S. Army Chinook helicopter flight engineer sits on the tarmac
A U.S. Army Chinook helicopter flight engineer sits on the tarmac during a training exercise at Bagram Airport in Afghanistan © U.S. Air Force/Technical Sergeant Gregory Brook/Reuters

Biden has repeatedly insisted that Trump’s 2019 agreement with the Taliban has bound his hands, which stipulates that the United States withdraws in exchange for the Islamic organization’s pledge to renounce terrorism. But people close to Biden said he would withdraw from this “forever war” anyway.

The president’s reasoning is also disturbing because he has revoked or is seeking to revoke many other things he inherited from Trump, such as withdrawing from the Paris climate agreement, withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement, and withdrawing from the Iran nuclear agreement. World Health Organization.

“Since at least 2008, Biden has always believed that the United States has invested a lot of money in Afghanistan,” said Jonah Blank, who served as Biden’s adviser on South Asia policy when he was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. . Blank took the then Senator Biden to Afghanistan three times, including a notorious visit in January 2009—just a few days before he was sworn in as the vice president—he was meeting with the then president of Afghanistan. Hamid Karzai walked out of dinner in disgust.

As Vice President in 2011, Biden visited the Afghan National Army Training Center in Kabul
As Vice President in 2011, Biden visited the Afghan National Army Training Center in Kabul ©Shah Marai/AFP/Getty

“If Karzai expresses his gratitude to the United States for its help and is obsessed with self-criticism, things may be different,” Blank said. “Since then, Biden’s thinking has been basically fixed.”

Domestically, Biden’s decision is very popular, although some opinion polls this week showed that as Americans watched the distressing scene at Kabul Airport, public opinion has shown a sharp negative tilt. Despite supporting Trump’s deal with the Taliban, Republicans still described Biden as weak and hinted that he could not perform his duties responsibly due to his age. Biden’s approval rating dropped below 50% for the first time this week.

But there are few signs that the downfall of Kabul will damage his chances of passing his 3.5 trillion dollar spending bill, which will depend on extremely thin party votes. Few foreign policy setbacks, no matter how embarrassing, can undermine the domestic agenda of the United States.

Last week, US General Kenneth F. McKenzie visited the evacuation control center at Hamid Karzai International Airport
U.S. General Kenneth F. McKenzie visited the evacuation control center at Hamid Karzai International Airport last week © U.S. Marine Corps/AFP/Getty

Angry ally

American allies and opponents may feel a greater impact on Biden’s role. Josep Borrell, the head of EU foreign affairs, told the European Parliament that this departure was “a disaster for the Afghan people, Western values ​​and credibility, and the development of international relations.” Armin Raschelt, Germany may become Angela Merkel’s successor after the September election, calling it “the biggest failure since NATO was founded.” Even the reliable Atlantic British failed to conceal their disappointment at the failure of the United States to understand the details of the withdrawal in time.

The further away from Washington, D.C., and the split along a fierce partisan line, the greater the ambiguity between Biden and Trump. “It looks like the United States is first, but its officials can speak French,” said a former US intelligence official.

History may still distinguish between the disrespectful way the United States withdraws its troops and the strategic logic behind it. Biden’s idea is that there is no elegant way to exit a war you have already lost.

In addition, the sooner the United States leaves Afghanistan, the more it can focus on responding to the rising China, the United States’ biggest strategic challenge. Biden’s foreign policy priorities are the three Cs-China, COVID-19, and climate. However, there are concerns that Biden will feel so stinged by the strong criticism of this week’s chaos that he feels it is necessary to show his tough attitude towards China.

“Where is the strategic gain of this loss?” Burrows asked. “Biden will be under pressure to demonstrate strengths and change the narrative.”

On Wednesday, the U.S. Marines evacuated at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul
The U.S. Marine Corps evacuated at the Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul on Wednesday © U.S. Marine Corps/AFP/Getty

China’s unabashed satisfaction with the humiliation of the United States may exacerbate this temptation. Twitter is full of Chinese “wolves” cheering for the humbleness of the United States. It may not be a coincidence that a Chinese plane broke into Taiwan’s airspace during a military exercise on Wednesday, which was allegedly triggered by Taiwan’s “provocation”. It is worth noting that Western countries have withdrawn their embassies in Kabul this week, and the Chinese and Russian embassies continue to operate normally.

“If Biden’s withdrawal shows that the United States has become less of a savior, and instead focuses more on caring for its domestic people, then this decision will be a good thing for both the United States and China,” a political scientist and risk based in Shanghai. Investor Eric Li said. He is a frequent defender of China’s position on Western audiences. “This is what China wants.”

There is also the issue of Pakistan, which has long supported the Taliban as a tool for establishing “strategic depth” in Afghanistan. Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan congratulated the Afghans this week for “breaking the spiritual shackles of slavery.” Compared to the first time when they came to power in 1996, the Taliban today have extensive international connections. For Pakistani intelligence agency ISI, this week’s quick takeover amounted to a major strategic victory.

On Monday, a U.S. soldier pointed a gun at an Afghan passenger at Kabul airport when thousands of people fleeing the country fled into the airport.
On Monday, a U.S. soldier pointed a gun at an Afghan passenger at Kabul Airport. Thousands of people flooded into the airport and fled the country. ©Wakil Kohsari/AFP/Getty

“The joke is that in 1989, the ISI defeated the Soviet Union with the help of the United States,” said Sarah Chayes, an Afghan expert who was a senior adviser to the Pentagon. “Now the ISI defeated the United States with the help of the United States.”

The regional influence of the Taliban’s return may also limit Biden’s ability to turn to China and get rid of the post-9/11 era of “forever war”. As a vassal state of China with nuclear weapons, Pakistan is an important pawn on the geopolitical chessboard. India is a close partner of the United States and is considered the most important counter-balance force against the enthusiastic China in the future, and may feel even more vulnerable after the withdrawal this week. This may complicate Biden’s ability to translate troop withdrawals into strategic gains.

In fact, it is difficult to subtly separate Biden’s decision to end this war from his plan to increase US attention to the Indo-Pacific region. There is also the question of whether the Taliban will fulfill their promise to keep organizations such as Al Qaeda and Isis out of doors. In 2011, as the Vice President, Biden arranged for the United States to leave Iraq for the last time. Then, he also talked about reducing the losses caused by the failure of the United States in nation-building. The resulting Iraqi power vacuum led to the rise of Isis in Iraq and Syria, and the United States was sucked back into the region.

“The question is what did Biden learn from that episode?” Chayes asked. “I think the answer may be no. He made up his mind on Afghanistan a long time ago.”


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