U.S. actions have condemned millions to a life under Taliban rule, but they also demonstrate a complete failure by the Biden administration to comprehend the geopolitical damage for America of abandoning a nation to an organization that former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo deemed terrorist in 2019—the same one the United States spent so much in blood and treasure to remove from power over 20 years ago.
Afghan people will not forgive this act of betrayal and America and the West’s influence in the region has diminished if not ended. But will this debacle denote the end of the era of America as the world’s policeman?
Who now is going to believe and trust a Sherriff that runs out on those he is there to protect? How shocking that troops had to be sent back to Kabul as an afterthought to help evacuate upwards of 10,000 U.S. citizens and many more Afghan support staff and their families that Donald Trump claims were left behind by General Mark Milley in the initial withdrawal.
Even UK politicians, disgusted by the accompanying British pull-out, are now questioning the habit of following America’s lead, and are talking about creating a more independent foreign policy.
Former Prime Minister Theresa May said in an emergency debate in Parliament that it was “incomprehensible and worrying” that the UK government had not been able to put together an “alternative alliance of countries” to continue to support the Afghan government. So is this the beginning of the end of the special relationship?
That seems unlikely for now, and Boris Johnson claimed that a military defense of Afghanistan was not possible in the absence of Washington’s support, after all he needs the money that would have cost to fund his zero-carbon economy obsession back home.
America first assumed its policeman’s role through the Truman Doctrine signed in 1947 to fight Russian communism around the world by offering financial or military assistance to beleaguered States.
Later, following the 9/11 attack, this was expanded by George W. Bush into a nebulous War on Terror, which has become the longest armed conflict in the history of the United States with costs estimated at over $5 trillion. This has been a huge undertaking paid for so far on credit that will burden future generations, with many in its military suffering life-changing injuries and over 7,000 making the ultimate sacrifice.
President Joe Biden told the American people in his White House address that after 20 years he was tired of seeing American lives being lost and money wasted so he wanted out of Afghanistan. But through his mismanagement of that process, the United States has also lost a strategic foothold in the region and deprived those still grieving families of the comfort that their sons, daughters, husbands, and wives died for something.
The United States has previous experience of relinquishing hard-fought-for territory. When President Obama ordered a huge drawdown of U.S. troops in Iraq, it allowed ISIS to claim the land and establish its Caliphate of terror over those left behind, at least until Donald Trump was elected.
Obama claimed he was just following a timetable laid out by his Republican predecessor, George W. Bush, who had signed the Status of Forces agreement in 2008, which planned for all American troops to be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. But it is the responsibility of every president to assess the changing conditions on the ground before implementing any previous commitment, not pass the buck if it goes wrong.
President Trump shared the view that the time had come to pull troops out of Afghanistan, and he already reduced American forces from roughly 15,500 down to 2,500. How to get those last troops out without seeing the country fall to the enemy is where he and Joe Biden disagreed.
Trump’s plan involved a “conditions-based withdrawal” with any non-compliance by the Taliban leading to a swift U.S. response that may even have altered its exit date. The chaotic scenes in Kabul, where a further 6,000 troops have since had to be sent back in to secure its remaining airport after Bagram was abandoned on July 4, of all dates, would likely not have happened on his watch.
The current administration seems to have sought no such conditions from the fighters and appears oblivious to the repercussions of abandonment on U.S. influence elsewhere, including halting Communist expansionism, which has been the bedrock of U.S. foreign policy for almost 75 years.
The Democrat Harry S. Truman told Congress on March 12, 1947, “It must be the policy of the United States to support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures.”
In the UK Parliament’s debate on Afghanistan another former leader of the Conservative Party, Sir Iain Duncan Smith said: “The rule of law and human rights is in retreat …. We have now opened the door to the Chinese and the Russians — who, by the way, kept their embassies open throughout the whole of this situation, fully staffed with permission from the Taliban.”
Sir Iain then read out an article from The Global Times, a Chinese state media outlet: “From what has happened in Afghanistan, those in Taiwan should perceive that once a war breaks out in the straits, the island’s defence will collapse within hours and the U.S. military will not come to help.”
Presenting war breaking out in the Straits of Taiwan as when rather than if is a chilling read, but has it now been made more likely? Despite the assurances Joe Biden has recently given, if the United States can abandon a nation of 38 million souls what about an island with just 24 million? Beijing must be glad not to be facing Donald Trump, who proved he could handle ISIS, North Korea, and Iran.
When America is great the world is a much safer place, but right now it isn’t.
Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.