Who Lost Afghanistan? President Biden, Our Commander-In-Chief

In His Determination To Hastily Abandon Afghanistan, President Biden Rejected The Counsel Of Top Generals And Ignored Warnings From Intelligence Experts And Even Fellow Democrats Of A Rapidly Deteriorating Security Situation, Leaving America’s Allies Upset And Alarmed As America’s Adversaries Take Advantage

SENATE REPUBLICAN LEADER MITCH McCONNELL (R-KY): “It was pretty obvious to me what was going to happen. I predicted it, and I’m not in the intelligence business, that the Taliban would be in power by September the 11th, which is a date of historic significance, just based on what we were hearing in these briefings. I know for a fact that the president’s military leaders argued against this decision. I think the president felt strongly about this, obviously. He overruled his own military leaders to do it, and he owns it.” (Sen. McConnell, Press Conference in Jeffersontown, KY, 08/16/2021)


At The Time The Decision Was Announced, Biden Was Warned Repeatedly By Top Military Commanders And Intelligence Officials That A Hasty Withdrawal Would Likely Lead To Disaster But ‘Biden Rejected Generals’ Views’ In His Rush To Exit

“In his Monday speech defending America’s chaotic withdrawal from Afghanistan, President Biden said he would not shrink from his share of responsibility. That would include his decision to bring home U.S. troops, which was made against the recommendations of his top military generals and many diplomats, who warned that a hasty withdrawal would undermine security in Afghanistan, several administration and defense officials said. … In a series of meetings leading up to his decision [to withdraw], military and intelligence officials told Mr. Biden that security was deteriorating in Afghanistan, and they expressed concerns both about the capabilities of the Afghan military and the Taliban’s likely ability to take over major Afghan cities.” (“Biden Wanted to Leave Afghanistan. He Knew the Risks.,” The Wall Street Journal, 8/17/2021)

“Some military commanders and administration officials have argued that any set date for withdrawing the approximately 3,500 American troops who remain, whether it is May 1 or at the end of the year, will doom the mission. The only way to preserve hard-fought gains in Afghanistan, they said, is to keep the small American presence there long enough to force a lasting deal between the Taliban and Afghan government. These officials have used the intelligence assessment to make the point that a withdrawal this year will lead to a fall of the current government, a sharp erosion of women’s rights and the return of international terrorist groups. A rush to the exit, some officials said, will only drag the United States back into Afghanistan soon after leaving — much as was the case in Iraq in 2014, three years after the Obama administration pulled troops out of that conflict.” (“Officials Try to Sway Biden Using Intelligence on Potential for Taliban Takeover of Afghanistan,” The New York Times, 3/26/2021)

“President Biden’s decision to remove all U.S. troops from Afghanistan ran counter to the recommendations of his top military commanders, who feared it could undermine security in the country. Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East, Gen. Austin ‘Scott’ Miller, who leads NATO forces in Afghanistan, and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, all recommended retaining the current force of 2,500 troops while stepping up diplomacy to try to cement a peace agreement, U.S. officials say. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, himself a retired military commander for the region, shared the concerns of the senior officers, cautioning that withdrawing all U.S. troops would suspend what amounted to an insurance policy for maintaining a modicum of stability in the country, the officials said.” (“Biden Rebuffed Commanders’ Advice in Decision to Leave Afghanistan,” The Wall Street Journal, 4/17/2021)

“Debating Exit From Afghanistan, Biden Rejected Generals’ Views … The current military leadership hoped it, too, could convince a new president to maintain at least a modest troop presence, trying to talk Mr. Biden into keeping a residual force and setting conditions on any withdrawal. But Mr. Biden refused to be persuaded…. There would be no conditions put on the withdrawal, Mr. Biden told the men, cutting off the last thread … and that [Secretary of Defense Lloyd] Austin and [chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff] General [Mark] Milley hoped could stave off a full drawdown. They were told, Zero meant zero.” (“Debating Exit From Afghanistan, Biden Rejected Generals’ Views,” The New York Times, 4/17/2021)

  • “The Pentagon’s behind-the-scenes effort got a lift from a congressionally appointed panel led by a friend of all four men: Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., a retired four-star Marine general who was also a former top commander in Afghanistan and past chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On Feb. 3, it recommended that the Biden administration should abandon the May 1 exit deadline negotiated with the Taliban and instead reduce American forces further only as security conditions improved. The report by the Afghanistan Study Group, a bipartisan panel examining the peace deal reached in February 2020 under the Trump administration, found that withdrawing troops based on a strict timeline, rather than how well the Taliban adhered to the agreement to reduce violence and improve security, risked the stability of the country and a potential civil war once international forces left.” (“Debating Exit From Afghanistan, Biden Rejected Generals’ Views,” The New York Times, 4/17/2021)

“From the moment that news outlets called Pennsylvania for Mr. Biden on Nov. 7, making him the next commander in chief for 1.4 million active-duty troops, Pentagon officials knew they would face an uphill battle to stop a withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan…. After Mr. Biden took office, top Defense Department officials began a lobbying campaign to keep a small counterterrorism force in Afghanistan for a few more years. They told the president that the Taliban had grown stronger … than at any point in the past two decades and pointed to intelligence estimates predicting that in two or three years, Al Qaeda could find a new foothold in Afghanistan.” (The New York Times, 8/14/2021)

“Shortly after Lloyd J. Austin III was sworn in as defense secretary on Jan. 22, he and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recommended to Mr. Biden that 3,000 to 4,500 troops stay in Afghanistan, nearly double the 2,500 troops there. On Feb. 3, a congressionally appointed panel led by a retired four-star Marine general, Joseph F. Dunford Jr., publicly recommended that Mr. Biden abandon the exit deadline of May 1 and further reduce American forces only as security conditions improved. A report by the panel assessed that withdrawing troops on a strict timeline rather than how well the Taliban adhered to the agreement heightened the risk of a potential civil war once international forces left.” (The New York Times, 8/14/2021)

“By March, Pentagon officials said they realized they were not getting anywhere with Mr. Biden. Although he listened to their arguments and asked extensive questions, they said they had a sense that his mind was made up. In late March, Mr. Austin and General Milley made a last-ditch effort with the president by forecasting dire outcomes in which the Afghan military folded in an aggressive advance by the Taliban. They drew comparisons to how the Iraqi military was overrun by the Islamic State in 2014 after American combat troops left Iraq, prompting Mr. Obama to send American forces back…. But the president was unmoved…. On the morning of April 6, Mr. Biden told Mr. Austin and General Milley he wanted all American troops out by Sept. 11.” (The New York Times, 8/14/2021)

‘We’ve Seen This Movie Before’: As Far Back As April Some National Security Officials Were Worried About A Saigon Repeat

“For Mr. Biden, the specter of helicopters evacuating the stranded, as happened in Vietnam in 1975, or American hostages being executed by Islamist militants clad in black, as happened in Syria in 2014, looms large. ‘We’ve seen this movie before,’ Mr. Austin warned the president during one of several meetings at the White House before Mr. Biden made his decision…. There was another worry circulating in the White House, the Pentagon and intelligence agencies. They feared that once the United States left, it was only a matter of time — maybe months, maybe years — until Kabul fell. The discussion, one participant said, reminded him of accounts he had read of the decision-making over troops exiting Vietnam in 1973. Then, the Nixon administration was seeking a ‘decent interval,’ to use the phrase at the time, before the fall of the Saigon government. It turned out the interval was a little more than two years, before people were evacuated from a rooftop 46 years ago, captured in a photograph that came to symbolize the failure.” (“Debating Exit From Afghanistan, Biden Rejected Generals’ Views,” The New York Times, 4/17/2021)

Just Weeks Ago, Gen. Scott Miller, The U.S. Commander In Afghanistan, Warned That ‘Security Across The Country Is Deteriorating’

“The top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan said security across the country is deteriorating just weeks before the last American forces withdraw. Gen. Scott Miller, in a rare briefing on Tuesday, said that recent gains by the Taliban are highly concerning, even if not unexpected. ‘The security situation is not good right now,’ he told a small group of reporters at the fast-emptying coalition headquarters in Kabul. ‘Civil war is certainly a path that can be visualized if this continues on the trajectory it’s on right now. That should be a concern to the world.’” (“U.S. Commander in Afghanistan Warns of Civil-War Risk as Security Deteriorates Ahead of Final Pullout,” The Wall Street Journal, 6/29/2021)

  • “[T]he general, whose mission was focused on training, motivating and improving the performance of Afghan security forces, noted that the looming U.S. departure had damaged their morale, which he said already had been flagging after months of heavy fighting. ‘The security situation is not good,’ Miller said. He cited the widening loss of territory and rising government troop casualties amid a ‘countrywide offensive’ by the Taliban that has been running at the same time that peace talks are supposed to be taking place. ‘There are a lot of questions about why and how this is happening.’” (“U.S. Military Commander In Afghanistan Warns Of Chaotic Civil War,” The Washington Post, 6/29/2021)


Intelligence Officials ‘Warned Of [An] Afghan Military Collapse, Despite Biden’s Assurances’

OFFICE OF THE DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE, April 9, 2021: “The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan Government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support.” (Annual Threat Assessment Of The US Intelligence Community, Office of the Director of National Intelligence, 4/09/2021)

“Classified assessments by American spy agencies over the summer painted an increasingly grim picture of the prospect of a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and warned of the rapid collapse of the Afghan military, even as President Biden and his advisers said publicly that was unlikely to happen as quickly, according to current and former American government officials. By July, many intelligence reports grew more pessimistic, questioning whether any Afghan security forces would muster serious resistance and whether the government could hold on in Kabul, the capital. President Biden said on July 8 that the Afghan government was unlikely to fall and that there would be no chaotic evacuations of Americans similar to the end of the Vietnam War.” (“Intelligence Warned of Afghan Military Collapse, Despite Biden’s Assurances,” The New York Times, 8/17/2021)


Early On, The Biden Administration’s Own National Security Officials Admitted ‘Our Ability To Collect Intelligence … Will Diminish’ And There Is ‘Significant Risk’ Of A Resurgence Of Terrorist Groups Following A U.S. Troop Withdrawal

“CIA Director William Burns told lawmakers [April 14th] that the departure of American troops from Afghanistan will leave a ‘significant risk’ of terrorism resurgence in the region -- a sobering assessment from the spy chief just hours before President Joe Biden planned to formally announce his commitment to remove U.S. forces from the war-torn country by September. ‘Our ability to keep that threat in Afghanistan in check … has benefitted greatly from the presence of U.S. and coalition militaries on the ground,’ Burns said at the Senate Intelligence Committee’s annual Worldwide Threats hearing. ‘When the time comes for the U.S. military to withdraw, the U.S. government’s ability to collect and act on threats will diminish,’ he continued. ‘That is simply a fact.’” (“US Troop Withdrawal Invites ‘Significant Risk’ Of Terrorism Resurgence In Afghanistan, CIA Director Warns,” ABC News, 4/14/2021)

  • “The plan to pull troops from Afghanistan could give terrorist groups like al-Qaida and Islamic State a chance to regenerate the capabilities they would need to carry out an attack against the United States, according to top U.S. intelligence officials. Their warning … touches on the deep-rooted concerns many current and former U.S. officials have voiced about pulling 2,500 to 3,500 troops from Afghanistan, along with thousands of trainers and contractors…. ‘There is a significant risk once the U.S. military and the coalition militaries withdraw,’ Bill Burns, recently confirmed director of the CIA, told lawmakers [April 14th] … cautioning that al-Qaida and IS in Afghanistan ‘remain intent on recovering the ability to attack U.S. targets, whether it’s in the region, in the West or ultimately in the homeland.’” (“Afghanistan Withdrawal Could Pose ‘Significant Risk’ to US, Intelligence Officials Say,” Voice of America News, 4/14/2021)

CNN’S JOHN BERMAN:So, the CIA director, William Burns, just testified, one of the concerns has been that if U.S. military presence goes away in Afghanistan, it could create a situation where terrorists could get a toehold again. And he testified yesterday saying his exact words. When the time comes for the U.S. military to withdraw the U.S. government’s ability to collect and act on threats will diminish. That’s simply a fact, says William Burns. Any reason to think that’s not simply a fact?”
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR JAKE SULLIVAN: “It is simply a fact that our ability to deal with the threat on the ground will change when there aren’t U.S. forces and coalition forces there. But we believe that our posture in the region will remain at a level where we can suppress the terrorist threat in Afghanistan. …”
BERMAN: “He just says -- you don’t dispute that it’s a fact -- the CIA director says the fact that the capabilities will diminish. Change is one thing. Diminish is another. You agree it’s a fact they will diminish?
SULLIVAN: “What I’m saying is our ability to protect the American homeland, in my view, will not diminish. Our ability to collect intelligence on a day-to-day basis against the comings and goings of actors within Afghanistan will diminish. That’s a big difference.” (CNN, 4/15/2021)

‘With The Taliban Now Controlling Afghanistan, There Is No Question That They Will Provide A Safe Haven For Al-Qaeda And For ISIS And For Other Terrorists To Be Able To Re-Organize,’ And It Will Be ‘“Extremely Difficult” For The United States To Watch And Counter Terrorist Threats’

“The top American commander in the Middle East said on Tuesday that it would be ‘extremely difficult’ for the United States to watch and counter terrorist threats in Afghanistan like Al Qaeda after American troops leave the country by Sept. 11. The head of the U.S. Central Command, Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., offered the first extensive comments by a top commander about the effect of President Biden’s decision to withdraw more than 2,500 American troops from Afghanistan. Mr. Biden rejected the advice of top Pentagon and military advisers to keep a small force in place. Among the major challenges once troops have left will be how to track and potentially attack militant groups in Afghanistan, a landlocked nation far from any major American base…. ‘The intelligence will decline,” General McKenzie said, ‘but we’re going to be able to continue to look into Afghanistan.’” (“General Warns of Challenges to Tracking Terrorist Threats in Afghanistan After U.S. Exits,” The New York Times, 4/20/2021)

FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE AND CIA DIRECTOR LEON PANETTA: “I don’t think there’s any question that our national security is threatened by what has happened in Afghanistan. We went there for two missions: one, to go after Al-Qaeda and the leadership of Al-Qaeda and Bin Laden because of what they did in attacking our country on 9/11, and we were successful at going after Al-Qaeda. And obviously, I am very proud of the mission to go after Bin Laden. But there was a second mission, which was to prevent Afghanistan from ever becoming a safe haven for terrorism again. Unfortunately, we have failed at that mission and with the Taliban now controlling Afghanistan, there is no question that they will provide a safe haven for Al-Qaeda and for ISIS and for other terrorists to be able to re-organize, strengthen themselves again and potentially use Afghanistan as a base for attacking not just the United States, but other countries, as well. This is a national security threat and it’s not going to be easy to go into Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban. When we were there, we had the cooperation of the Afghans. We worked with the military, there were a lot of partnerships involved. We had good intelligence on where the targets were. We’ll have none of that with Taliban control and how we are going to be able to protect our country in that situation is going to be a difficult challenge.” (MSNBC, 8/17/2021)


Even Democrats With National Security Experience Have Excoriated The ‘Disaster’ In Kabul, And Said The Biden Administration Was Warned About It

REP. CHRISSY HOULAHAN (D-PA), Air Force veteran: “These past few days have been difficult to process, and not because the Taliban’s progress was surprising…. In fact, the opposite. We sounded the alarm, and our dire warnings fell on deaf ears.” (“Democrats Grapple With Afghanistan Fallout After Biden Administration Ignored Their Previous Warnings,” CNN, 8/16/2021)

REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA), Marine veteran: “To say that today is anything short of a disaster would be dishonest. Worse, it was avoidable…. While I am proud that a strong, bipartisan majority in Congress voted to expand the Special Immigrant Visa program in support of our Afghan friends, my worst fear has been realized: That ultimately this effort would distract from what is truly needed, an immediate evacuation. The fact that, at this hour, we have not even secured the civilian half of Kabul Airport is testament to our moral and operational failure. We need to rectify this immediately.” (Rep. Moulton, Press Release, 8/15/2021)

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ (D-NJ), Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman: “The events of recent days have been the culmination of a series of mistakes … For years, I have argued that the withdrawal of U.S. forces must leave a durable political settlement in place. ... In implementing this flawed plan, I am disappointed that the Biden administration clearly did not accurately assess the implications of a rapid U.S. withdrawal. We are now witnessing the horrifying results of many years of policy and intelligence failures. … The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will continue fulfilling its oversight role with a hearing on U.S. policy towards Afghanistan, including the Trump administration’s flawed negotiations with Taliban, and the Biden administration’s flawed execution of the U.S. withdrawal.” (Sen. Menendez, Press Release, 8/17/2021)

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA), Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman: “Intelligence officials have anticipated for years that in the absence of the U.S. military the Taliban would continue to make gains in Afghanistan.” (Sen. Warner, Press Release, 8/16/2021)

“Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-R.I.) said there was blame to go around … But he also seemed to point the finger at the Biden administration, citing ‘failures of intelligence, diplomacy and a lack of imagination as we transitioned military forces from the country.’” (“Democrats Offer Some Harsh Reviews Of Biden On Afghanistan,” The Washington Post, 8/17/2021)

As Far Back As April, Some Dems Were Warning A Precipitous Withdrawal ‘Will Increase The Likelihood Of A Taliban Victory And The Collapse Of Our Counterterrorism Partner’

“‘I totally understand and support the notion that U.S. involvement in this war has to end at some point,’ said Michele Flournoy, who served as a senior Defense official under Mr. Obama and was a candidate to serve as defense secretary for Mr. Biden. ‘But we are in a position where our forces are like the boy with the finger in the dyke, and when we remove that finger I think that the flood is going to come.’ ‘My worry is that civil war will heat up again. You’ll see a lot of Afghan deaths and persecution of women,’ she added.” (“Biden Rebuffed Commanders’ Advice in Decision to Leave Afghanistan,” The Wall Street Journal, 4/17/2021)

REP. TOM MALINOWSKI (D-NJ), former Obama administration State Dept. official: “[J]ust as I opposed President Trump’s attempts to withdraw all our troops from Afghanistan, I disagree with President Biden’s decision to do so by September. Removing our troops will not end the war in Afghanistan, or protect us against terrorism. It will increase the likelihood of a Taliban victory and the collapse of our counterterrorism partner, which would trigger another prolonged conflict in the country…. The Taliban are not capable of or interested in sharing power with Afghanistan’s elected leaders, and have made clear their view that the purpose of peace negotiations is to get American troops out, not to end their war against the Afghan government. We cannot realistically hope that diplomacy or aid will persuade the Taliban to preserve the democratic gains they have fought for years to erase.” (Rep. Malinowksi, Press Release, 4/13/2021)


Meanwhile, Our Allies Are Deeply Frustrated By Biden’s Unilateral Decision To Withdraw And The Resulting Debacle: ‘The Biggest Foreign Policy Disaster Since Suez’

REPORTER: “[H]as the president spoken to any other world leaders since Kabul fell to the Taliban?”
NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR JAKE SULLIVAN: “... He has not yet spoken with any other world leaders.” (White House Press Briefing, 8/17/2021)

“The Taliban’s stunningly swift advances across Afghanistan have sparked global alarm, reviving doubts about the credibility of U.S. foreign policy promises and drawing harsh criticisms even from some of the United States’ closest allies. As Taliban fighters entered Kabul and the United States scrambled to evacuate its citizens, concerns grew that the unfolding chaos could create a haven for terrorists, unleash a major humanitarian disaster and trigger a new refugee exodus. U.S. allies complain that they were not fully consulted on a policy decision that potentially puts their own national security interests at risk — in contravention of President Biden’s promises to recommit to global engagement. And many around the world are wondering whether they could rely on the United States to fulfill long-standing security commitments stretching from Europe to East Asia.” (“Afghanistan’s Collapse Leaves Allies Questioning U.S. Resolve On Other Fronts,” The Washington Post, 8/15/2021)

“Across Europe, officials have reacted with a mix of disbelief and a sense of betrayal. Even those who cheered Biden’s election and believed he could ease the recent tensions in the transatlantic relationship said they regarded the withdrawal from Afghanistan as nothing short of a mistake of historic magnitude.” (“Disbelief And Betrayal: Europe Reacts To Biden’s Afghanistan ‘Miscalculation,’” Politico, 8/17/2021)

Germany: ‘The Early Withdrawal Was A Serious And Far-Reaching Miscalculation’

“While dismay over the course of events in Afghanistan was widespread across Europe, it is particularly pronounced in Germany. For Germans, the Afghan campaign wasn’t just about coming to an ally’s aid or ‘nation-building,’ it was about proving, both to the world and itself, that Germany had changed. The Afghanistan mission was the first major deployment of German troops since World War II. When then-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder asked the German parliament to approve the mission in the fall of 2001 following the September 11 terror attacks, he faced resistance from his own Social Democrats and decided to put his political survival on the line by linking the decision to a confidence vote…. Over the years, Germany felt the effects of the Afghanistan mission in more ways than one. Though its troops were stationed in the relatively peaceful northern part of the country, nearly 60 German soldiers lost their lives there. The German army’s medal of valor, a rarely bestowed honor, has only ever been given to soldiers active in Afghanistan. Germany also invested untold billions in Afghanistan during that period and took in thousands of refugees. Though successive German governments remained committed to the Afghanistan operation, it was always controversial.” (“Disbelief And Betrayal: Europe Reacts To Biden’s Afghanistan ‘Miscalculation,’” Politico, 8/17/2021)

“[S]ome German officials and lawmakers are seething at Washington’s failure to consult coalition partners such as Berlin, [Cathryn] Clüver Ashbrook [director of the German Council on Foreign Relations] said. Germany is particularly concerned about the potential for an exodus of Afghan refugees similar to the influx of 2015, when more than 1 million migrants, spurred largely by the war in Syria, surged into Europe, with many headed for Germany. ‘The Biden administration came to office promising an open exchange, a transparent exchange with its allies. They said the transatlantic relationship would be pivotal,’ she said. ‘As it is, they’re playing lip service to the transatlantic relationship and still believe European allies should fall into line with U.S. priorities.’” (“Afghanistan’s Collapse Leaves Allies Questioning U.S. Resolve On Other Fronts,” The Washington Post, 8/15/2021)

“‘I say this with a heavy heart and with horror over what is happening, but the early withdrawal was a serious and far-reaching miscalculation by the current administration,’ said Norbert Röttgen, chairman of the German parliament’s foreign relations committee. ‘This does fundamental damage to the political and moral credibility of the West.’ Röttgen, a senior member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, is no flamethrower. He has known Biden for decades and was optimistic about his prospects. While Merkel has avoided direct criticism of Biden, behind the scenes she has made it clear that she considered the hasty withdrawal a mistake. ‘For those who believed in democracy and freedom, especially for women, these are bitter events,’ she told a meeting with officials from her party late Monday, according to German media reports.” (“Disbelief And Betrayal: Europe Reacts To Biden’s Afghanistan ‘Miscalculation,’” Politico, 8/17/2021)

“Germany’s conservative candidate to succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel, Armin Laschet, on Tuesday called the withdrawal of forces ‘the greatest debacle that NATO has experienced since its foundation.’” (“Withdrawal From Afghanistan Forces Allies And Adversaries To Reconsider America’s Global Role,” The Washington Post, 8/17/2021)

Britain: ‘Whatever Happened To “America Is Back”?’

“In the U.K., which like Germany supported the U.S. engagement in Afghanistan from the beginning, the sentiment was similar. ‘Afghanistan is the biggest foreign policy disaster since Suez. We need to think again about how we handle friends, who matters and how we defend our interests,’ tweeted Tom Tugendhat, the Conservative chair of the U.K. parliament’s foreign affairs committee.” (“Disbelief And Betrayal: Europe Reacts To Biden’s Afghanistan ‘Miscalculation,’” Politico, 8/17/2021)

“‘Whatever happened to ‘America is back’?’ said Tobias Ellwood, who chairs the Defense Committee in the British Parliament, citing Biden’s foreign policy promise to rebuild alliances and restore U.S. prestige … ‘People are bewildered that after two decades of this big, high-tech power intervening, they are withdrawing and effectively handing the country back to the people we went in to defeat,’ Ellwood said. ‘This is the irony. How can you say America is back when we’re being defeated by an insurgency armed with no more than [rocket-propelled grenades], land mines and AK-47s?’” (“Afghanistan’s Collapse Leaves Allies Questioning U.S. Resolve On Other Fronts,” The Washington Post, 8/15/2021)

“As much as its military capabilities, the United States’ decades-old role as a defender of democracies and freedoms is again in jeopardy, said Rory Stewart, who was Britain’s minister for international development in the Conservative government of Theresa May. ‘The Western democracy that seemed to be the inspiration for the world, the beacon for the world, is turning its back,’ Stewart said.” (“Afghanistan’s Collapse Leaves Allies Questioning U.S. Resolve On Other Fronts,” The Washington Post, 8/15/2021)

“In comments Friday, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace predicted civil war and the return of al-Qaeda … ‘I feel this was not the right time or decision to make,’ he told Sky News. ‘Of course al-Qaeda will probably come back, and certainly it would like that kind of breeding ground.’ ‘Strategically, it causes a lot of problems, and as an international community, it’s very difficult . . . what we’re seeing today,’ he added.” (“Afghanistan’s Collapse Leaves Allies Questioning U.S. Resolve On Other Fronts,” The Washington Post, 8/15/2021)

‘What’s Happening In Afghanistan Is Raising Alarm Bells Everywhere’

“‘This kind of troop withdrawal caused chaos,’ Latvia’s defense minister, Artis Pabriks, said in a radio interview Tuesday, noting the demise of long-term nation-building projects and how the decision to withdraw was essentially foisted on Europeans. ‘This era is over. Unfortunately, the West, and Europe in particular, are showing they are weaker globally.’” (“Withdrawal From Afghanistan Forces Allies And Adversaries To Reconsider America’s Global Role,” The Washington Post, 8/17/2021)

“The United States’ Arab allies, which have long counted on the U.S. military to come to their aid in the event of an attack by Iran, also have faced questions over whether they will be able to rely on the United States. ‘What’s happening in Afghanistan is raising alarm bells everywhere,’ said Riad Kahwaji, who heads the Inegma security consultancy in the United Arab Emirates, which hosts one of the biggest American military contingents in the Middle East. ‘The U.S.’s credibility as an ally has been in question for a while,’ he said. ‘We see Russia fighting all the way to protect the Assad regime [in Syria], and now the Americans are pulling out and leaving a big chaos in Afghanistan.’” (“Afghanistan’s Collapse Leaves Allies Questioning U.S. Resolve On Other Fronts,” The Washington Post, 8/15/2021)

“At a time when some European leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, have been pushing for the bloc to pursue a security policy less dependent on America, Afghanistan is bound to be used as evidence for why ‘strategic autonomy’ is necessary. ‘Naturally this has damaged American credibility, along with that of the intelligence services and of the military,’ said Rüdiger Lentz, the former head of the Aspen Institute in Berlin. ‘One can only hope that the damage to America’s foreign policy leadership can be quickly contained.’” (“Disbelief And Betrayal: Europe Reacts To Biden’s Afghanistan ‘Miscalculation,’” Politico, 8/17/2021)


And America’s Adversaries Are Mocking Us, Or Worse, Trying To Take Advantage Of Perceived American Weakness

“While the U.S. made for the exits, neighboring countries and American rivals China and Russia looked set to try and capitalize on the chaos of the U.S. disorderly exit from the country. China has said it is willing to forge ‘friendly relations’ with the militants. On Sunday, Russia said that it was not planning on evacuating its embassy in Kabul and would ‘now be talking’ to the Taliban political office in Doha.” (“Afghans Scale Walls, Rush Tarmac In Frenzy To Flee As Kabul Wakes To Taliban Takeover,” NBC News, 8/16/2021)

“For China and Russia, there is opportunity as well as concern in the departure of U.S. troops. Both Moscow and Beijing have hosted Taliban delegations in recent weeks in an attempt to pave the way for a post-American future in the region. The humiliating conclusion of the two-decade U.S. venture into Afghanistan will aid their efforts to persuade many governments to seek out relationships elsewhere, analysts say.” (“Afghanistan’s Collapse Leaves Allies Questioning U.S. Resolve On Other Fronts,” The Washington Post, 8/15/2021)

Russia: ‘We Believe Our Failure Was Big, But It Seems The Americans Achieved An Even Bigger Failure’

“Russia, which has long-established ties to the Taliban but does not officially recognize it, praised the group on Monday. ‘The situation is peaceful and good and everything has calmed down in the city. The situation in Kabul now under the Taliban is better than it was under [President] Ashraf Ghani,’ said Dmitry Zhirnov, the Russian ambassador to Afghanistan.” (“Withdrawal From Afghanistan Forces Allies And Adversaries To Reconsider America’s Global Role,” The Washington Post, 8/17/2021)

“Russia has been struck by the speed of the unraveling of the U.S.-installed government in Kabul, said Fyodor Lukyanov, the chairman of Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defense Policy and editor in chief of the magazine Russia in Global Affairs. The decade-long Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, which ended in 1989, is widely remembered as a failure, one that leaves Russia in no mood to reengage too closely with Afghanistan, he said. But at least, Lukyanov noted, the government left behind by the Soviets survived for three years after the withdrawal of Red Army forces. ‘We believe our failure was big, but it seems the Americans achieved an even bigger failure,’ he said.” (“Afghanistan’s Collapse Leaves Allies Questioning U.S. Resolve On Other Fronts,” The Washington Post, 8/15/2021)

Chinese Communist Party Mouthpieces Used The Failure In Afghanistan To Threaten Taiwan And Ridicule American Promises About Hong Kong

“Washington ‘bears an unavoidable responsibility for the current situation in Afghanistan,’ Col. Wu Qian, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of National Defense, said earlier this month. ‘It cannot leave and shed the burden on regional countries.’” (“Afghanistan’s Collapse Leaves Allies Questioning U.S. Resolve On Other Fronts,” The Washington Post, 8/15/2021)

GLOBAL TIMES EDITORIAL, China-State Affiliated Media: “#????Editorial: From what happened in Afghanistan, those in Taiwan should perceive that once a war breaks out in the Straits, the island’s defense will collapse in hours and US military won’t come to help. As a result, the DPP will quickly surrender.” (Global Times, @globaltimesnews, Twitter, 8/16/2021)

  • “The United States said [June 22, 2020] it will start treating four major Chinese media outlets as foreign embassies, alleging they are mouthpieces for Beijing … David Stilwell, the senior U.S. diplomat for East Asia, told reporters the designation would affect China Central Television, the China News Service, the People’s Daily and the Global Times, and reflected their real status as ‘propaganda outlets’ under the control of the Chinese Communist Party…. The Global Times is published by the People’s Daily, the official newspaper of the ruling Communist Party.(“U.S. Designates Four Major Chinese Media Outlets As Foreign Missions,” Reuters, 6/22/2020)
  • “The effort to shape and control foreign discourse on China began in earnest in the wake of the financial crisis. Brimming with newfound confidence in the superiority of the China model, the party announced major new investments to increase the global presence of state-run outlets, including starting an English-language version of the party’s nationalist tabloid Global Times in April 2009.” (“The Man Behind China’s Aggressive New Voice,” The New York Times Magazine, 7/07/2021)

“In a commentary directed at Hong Kong, China’s state-run Global Times cited Afghanistan in a signal to democracy activists not to heed repeated American promises to ‘stand by’ Hong Kong. ‘It has been proven repeatedly that whomever U.S. politicians claim to stand with will face bad luck, plunge into social unrest and suffer severe consequences,’ the commentary said.” (“Afghanistan’s Collapse Leaves Allies Questioning U.S. Resolve On Other Fronts,” The Washington Post, 8/15/2021)

And Iran Is Accelerating Its Uranium Enrichment

“Iran has accelerated its enrichment of uranium to near weapons-grade, the U.N. atomic watchdog said in a report on Tuesday seen by Reuters, a move raising tensions with the West … Iran increased the purity to which it is refining uranium to 60% fissile purity from 20% in April in response to an explosion and power cut at its Natanz site that damaged output at the main underground enrichment plant there.” (“Iran Accelerates Enrichment Of Uranium To Near Weapons-Grade, IAEA Says,” Reuters, 8/17/2021)

“The move is the latest of many by Iran breaching the restrictions imposed by the 2015 nuclear deal, which capped the purity to which Tehran can refine uranium at 3.67%. The United States and its European allies have warned such moves threaten talks on reviving the deal, which are currently suspended.” (“Iran Accelerates Enrichment Of Uranium To Near Weapons-Grade, IAEA Says,” Reuters, 8/17/2021)


FLASHBACK: BIDEN: ‘The United States Committed To Consulting Closely With Our NATO Allies And Partners On The Way Forward In Afghanistan,’ ‘America Leads Not By The Example Of Its Power, But By The Power Of Our Example’

PRESIDENT BIDEN: “I speak today as President of the United States at the very start of my administration, and I’m sending a clear message to the world: America is back.  The transatlantic alliance is back.  And we are not looking backward; we are looking forward, together. … And I want you to know the United States will do — we’ll do our part.  We’ll stand with you.  We’ll fight for our shared values.  We’ll meet the challenges of this new moment in history. America is back.” (President Biden, Remarks, 2/19/2021)

  • BIDEN: “You, our allies, joined us to fight al Qaeda, and the United States committed to consulting closely with our NATO Allies and partners on the way forward in Afghanistan. My administration strongly supports the diplomatic proc- — process that’s underway and to bring an end to this war that is closing out 20 years.  We remain committed to ensuring that Afghanistan never again provides a base for terrorist attacks against the United States and our partners and our interests.” (President Biden, Remarks, 2/19/2021)

BIDEN: “And so — so is the message I want the world to hear today: America is back.  America is back.  Diplomacy is back at the center of our foreign policy.” (President Biden, Remarks, 2/04/2021)

BIDEN: “The only way we’re going to meet the global threats that we’re — is by working together, and with our partners and our allies. And I conveyed to each of my G7 counterparts that the United States is going to do our part. America is back at the table. It’s — America is back at the table. The lack of participation in the past and full engagement was noticed significantly, not only by the leaders of those countries, but by the people in the G7 countries. And America is back in the business of leading the world alongside nations who share our most deeply held values.” (President Biden, Remarks, 6/13/2021)

BIDEN: “Folks, look, I’m often quoted by the press as saying, ‘America leads not by the example of its power, but by the power of our example.’” (President Biden, Remarks, 6/09/2021).

BIDEN: “And there was a strong consensus among the leaders in that meeting on Afghanistan.  Our troops are coming home, but we agreed that our diplomatic, economic, and humanitarian commitment to the Afghan people and our support for the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces will endure. And I welcomed our Allies and partners to recognize that counterterrorism — that counterterrorism efforts must continue to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a ca- — a safe haven for attacks on our countries, even as we take on terrorist networks in the Middle East and Africa.” (President Biden, Remarks, 6/14/2021)



Related Issues: Iran, Al Qaeda, War on Terror, Russia, China, Afghanistan, America's Military