The latest disaster in the Afghan pullout appears poised to play out: the final Taliban assault on the capital of Kabul.
President Joe Biden’s enormously controversial decision to unilaterally pull out of Afghanistan has seen a rapid string of victories for the Taliban, the same group of terrorists which were the reason the United States invaded the country in the first place back in late 2001, in the wake of the September 11th attacks.
Taliban forces have been advancing for months, but on August 6th the beginning of the end seemed to be signaled with the capture of the first provincial capital. Since then, Taliban victories and atrocities have been accelerating, with the capture of the Logar provincial capital placing their armies within striking distance (7 miles) of the national capital of Kabul.
The Afghan president has pleaded for the international community to intervene, saying he wished to “stop the civil war imposed on Afghans and prevent more innocent deaths and the loss of 20 years of achievements.” The response has been mostly tepid, with western nations removing their diplomats as Biden is reduced to begging the Taliban not to destroy the American embassy when it overwhelms Kabul, further showing that the total collapse of the non-Taliban government is increasingly being taken as a given in western circles – and around the world.
These sentiments appear to be shared by President Ghani’s own troops, who have been surrendering en masse to the Taliban, indicating the lack of motivation or enthusiasm to fight for Ghani. Former Afghan Finance Minister Omar Zakhilwal points to this as evidence that the Afghan National Army does not believe the president – and by extension, the democratic government – is worth fighting for. This seems to be in spite of Ghani’s insistence that “serious steps” are being taken to rejuvenate the military.
As the situation increasingly resembles the fall of South Vietnamese capital Saigon in 1975, Democrats have been quick to rush to defend Biden’s withdrawal. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) has asked that the House be briefed on the situation, a sign of concern over the rapidly collapsing situation, yet has avoided publicly criticizing Biden, stating that “it was not a serious effort,” and that “we ignored Afghanistan” to focus on Iraq.
“We did not defeat the Taliban. We routed the Taliban. They headed for the hills and beyond, just waiting to come back. Twenty years,” Pelosi went on to say at her press conference in Los Angeles.
The “it was always a doomed effort” line has been echoed by other Democrats such as Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense under former President Obama.
“There are going to be consequences for this. It’s going to be very difficult. I’m not surprised as to what’s happening. But I think we have to ask ourselves, after 20 years, and we start pulling out, and the Taliban just so easily are taking control of these provincial capitals and so much of the country — a lot of mistakes have been made over the years.” Hagel told NPR.
Yet a firestorm of criticism has erupted from other quarters. Former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo from the Trump presidency, in particular, has been vocally excoriating President Biden as incompetent and foolish. Even Bloomberg.com has stated that the withdrawal achieved “nothing but disaster.”
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) August 13, 2021
In light of the rapidly deteriorating situation, and President Biden’s ongoing policy of abandoning key policies, and dead-of-night withdrawals, it’s hard to imagine President Ghani’s pleas for aid being met with anything but more dithering and empty words from Washington, as the administration spits in the face of every veteran and every Afghani who sacrificed to avenge 9/11 and clear the area of terrorists.
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