The U.S. military has released a new timetable for the withdrawal of its forces from Afghanistan, leaving a small contingent behind in the country to train and assist Afghan security forces until 2024.
On August 20, President Joe Biden makes a gesture to Secretary of State Antony Blinken as he speaks about the military’s continuing evacuation operations in Afghanistan.
Photo credit: Getty Images/Anna Moneymaker
Despite the Biden Administration’s efforts to portray it as a logistical and planning success, the US departure from Afghanistan remains nasty and chaotic. More Afghans and Americans are fleeing the country. However, the Taliban have defeated some, and the pace is too sluggish for confidence or safety as President Biden’s August 31 evacuation deadline approaches.
President Biden’s deference to the Taliban over how and when U.S. citizens and friends may travel to the airport continues to be the most humiliating. So far, he has refused to allow the Pentagon to build corridors into Kabul city, where the State Department last week advised citizens to stay in place, and, as far as we know, he would not deploy the military beyond Kabul to provide sanctuary and escape for Americans across the nation.
“Someone in our audience could listen to you, Mr. Secretary, and think, ‘Oh, so we have to ask the Taliban for permission for American people to leave,’” host Major Garrett said on CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday. “Is it true or false?”
“They have control of Kabul,” Mr. Blinken said. That is the situation. That is the reality with which we must contend.”
Yes, but this isn’t the reality that the United States must face. The United States military has more than enough power to extract better conditions from the Taliban, but Mr. Biden is much too risk averse to do so. Instead, the United States agrees to leave on the Taliban’s conditions. The Taliban placed the Haqqani network in charge of security in Kabul over the weekend. Because of its assaults on US troops and strong connections to al Qaeda, the US classified the Haqqani network as a “foreign terrorist organization” in 2012.
On the eve of the August 31 deadline, Mr. Biden’s deference is particularly vexing. Mr. Blinken dodged the issue twice on CBS when asked whether Mr. Biden would extend the date. Mr. Biden said on Sunday at the White House that there had been talks about extending the deadline, but that he expects the US will have evacuated everyone by August 31.
The more honest response may have came from the Pentagon on Thursday, when spokesman John Kirby stated that extending the deadline beyond August 31 “would need further discussions with the Taliban.” Is the Taliban determining how long the US may remain in order to rescue its citizens? Mr. Biden dodged the issue on Sunday.
To an American commander in chief, this should be intolerable. “Number one, we need enough soldiers to ensure we can evacuate all of our people,” Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse said on “Fox News Sunday.” Second, we must ignore these deadlines. August 31 was a politically motivated, arbitrary deadline. The Taliban must understand that they do not have the last say over American lives.”
Mr. Biden had chosen Aug. 31 as the date for the troops to depart because he believed the pullout would go well and that they wouldn’t even have to remain until Sept. 11, his initial deadline. That’s all for now. The 31st of August is now less than a week away. It’s impossible to imagine the evacuation of Americans, foreign nationals, and Afghan friends will be completed so fast at the present pace, especially given the Taliban’s hurdles.
A reasonable issue is if the President just intends to proclaim victory on August 31 and declare everyone out. Meanwhile, Vice President Biden is embarrassing the United States and portraying himself as weak and out of touch with reality.
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The print version of the August 23, 2021, was published.