In the aftermath of the Munich Accord between Germany and the United Kingdom, the British Prime Minister returned to England saying that he had secured “Peace in Our Time”. The British population, eager for peace, overwhelmingly supported the agreement.
Winston Churchill told Chamberlain; “you were given a choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor and you will have war”. President Biden, like Neville Chamberlain, has similarly brought dishonor to the nation, handed over Afghanistan to our Taliban enemy, alarmed allies and given a propaganda and political victory to autocrats from Beijing to Moscow.
Our withdrawal from Afghanistan has been thoroughly botched. Biden has gotten the sequencing of this withdrawal backwards. Instead of removing our military last and initially bringing out our people and hundreds of millions of dollars of military equipment, Biden withdrew the military first.
Regardless of one’s views on the efficacy of our remaining in Afghanistan, Mr. Biden has greatly endangered our national security interests around the world. We will be living with the consequences of this disaster for many years to come
President Biden, like Presidents Trump and Obama before him, had committed to removing U.S. forces from Afghanistan. Both Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump had cast doubt on the U.S. mission in that nation and said that we needed to end our involvement in “forever wars”. President Trump, like President Obama before him, initiated peace talks with the Taliban in Doha, located in the Persian Gulf nation of Qatar.
The agreement negotiated by the Trump Administration in February 2020 committed to a U.S. withdrawal, release of 5000 prisoners and called for reconciliation between the Taliban and the Afghan government. The major flaw in these negotiations was the exclusion of the Afghan government from the talks. The Taliban considered the government in Kabul to be illegitimate and neither Mr. Trump nor Mr. Biden seemed to realize that conceding this point undermined the Afghan government, which after all had been imperfectly, but democratically elected.
It is worth recalling that former Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates revealed in his memoir that in his opinion Joe Biden has “been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” We can add Biden’s Afghan mishap to the list.
Biden’s handling of the Afghan withdrawal has been a diplomatic and humanitarian catastrophe. It has also resulted in the most significant, unforced humiliation of the United States in our modern history. Mr. Biden has placed the United States in a position whereby we now depend on the good will and sufferance of Taliban extremists and their terrorist allies to safely remove our citizens and Afghan nationals who’ve worked with the U.S. Mr. Biden has also agreed to an arbitrary August 31st deadline for getting our people out, even though this is most unlikely.
There is no doubt that the U.S. made significant mistakes during our 20-year involvement in Afghanistan. Successive administrations and military commanders have often sugar-coated news of progress there. We did not fully understand the tribal nature of Afghan politics and tended to view the situation through our Western prism. And corruption in the Afghan government was a continual issue.
But once we withdrew, the collapse of the Afghan military was predictable. The military doctrine we imposed assumed the Afghans would have close air support from the U.S. Moreover, Afghan air forces were reliant upon U.S. contractors for maintenance and support. When Biden withdrew that support, military defeat became inevitable. Biden also falsely accused the Afghans of not wanting to fight, ignoring over 65,000 military fatalities they endured fighting the Taliban.
In surrendering Afghanistan to our Taliban enemies, Biden has forfeited a key diplomatic and military listening post in a volatile part of the world. Our relatively small military footprint in that nation provided a key base to fight terrorism. Presidential leadership could have explained the stakes to the American people, but this hasn’t been the case under Presidents Obama, Trump or Biden. It was in our national security interest to maintain an Afghan presence and Biden has now squandered that opportunity and insulted the memory of the 2400 American lives lost there since 2001.
President Biden was given a choice between dishonor and war. He has certainly dishonored the reputation of America, allowing a return of our enemies to power in Afghanistan. His mistake may very well result in war.
Former Representative John Faso of Kinderhook represented New York's 19th House district in the 115th Congress.
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