Out of necessity and with extensive public approval, America went to war in Afghanistan. Three presidents later and after years of mulling it, President Joe Biden has set a date to withdraw US troops from the country. But there could be consequences, as many of Biden’s supporters can foresee.
Former US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton believes the consequences are “huge.” She told CNN the Taliban could easily walk back to the head of the table after enduring two decades of frustration by US military might.
According to Biden’s road-map, the withdrawal should be a done deal by September 11 – the 20th anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s infamous attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon. Recently, the Taliban have steadily ramped up attacks on Afghan citizens and Western interests across Afghanistan. Hillary Clinton agrees there’s no easy solution to this “wicked problem” asserting there are consequences whether the US stays or leaves.
But, Mr. Biden’s ambitious plan seems more considerable – on paper – than Donald Trump’s May 1 exit negotiated 2020 with the Taliban. The Taliban demands that all “foreign forces” leave the country as a condition to its participation in negotiating Afghanistan’s future. They have threatened to attack US and NATO personnel if the foreign troops are still around by that deadline.
One has to agree that with nearly 4,000 US and 7,000 foreign troops in Afghanistan, it may be futile playing hardball with the Taliban. A Biden administration review of the Afghanistan situation clearly shows that the “most appropriate” action would be to cut the nation’s losses and come home. This war has cost trillions of dollars and more than 2,000 American lives. Afghan casualties are at least fifty times that number.
Zero troops and zero conditions is the quickest approach to get the US out of what many have called a “pointless war.” Even former President Trump has praised the Biden administration on this. This would be a major boost to the current US focus on big strategic interests such as increasing military competition with China.
All of this does not mean that America is leaving Afghanistan in the hands of the Taliban. President Ashraf Ghani has the promise of full US diplomatic cooperation, even if there will not be maximum military investment. He can take that to the bank.