There will be huge consequences… The end of the U.S deployment could play into the Taliban’s hands.Mrs Hilary Clinton’s warning to the Biden administration on U.S troops withdrawal from Afghanistan in April 2021
The Botched U.S Troops Withdrawal from Afghanistan
The botched U.S troops withdrawal from Afghanistan has raised many questions about the strategy of the West towards global issues. Consensus building among the U.S and her NATO allies is faltering as developments in Afghanistan has revealed. The UK, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Australia and other European Union countries that contributed troops to the ISAF mission are hamstrung by the U.S troops withdrawal policy. Does this put their credibility at stake in the collective undertaking?
There is nothing wrong with withdrawing from a war that has become a quagmire. The way we set about it is what counts. The procedure if botched can create a lot of complications and dire consequences. That is the position with the United States withdrawal from the Afghanistan war today. In one breath over 640 passengers escaping from anticipated harsh Taliban rule scrambled aboard a U.S Air Force C-17 cargo aircraft built to carry 150.
The unfolding disaster in Afghanistan should not be explained away with blame-shifting by U.S government officials. They should own up to their responsibility as events unfold. They ought to have known better because they were warned severally.
The images of people falling to their death from airborne U.S military transport planes in Kabul will for generations remain another symbol of America’s humiliating defeat. The first was the American defeat by the Vietcong as the army of North Vietnam marched on Saigon. The symbol of that defeat was helicoptered airlifting people from the top of the U.S embassy buildings in Saigon. Biden had two weeks earlier, before the fall of Kabul on Sunday, August 15, during a press briefing stated that such a scene could not be expected in Afghanistan. However, what we are seeing now is a worst-case scenario
It remains to be seen if the Biden presidency with this horrific symbol and cargo aircraft running over people on the tarmac will ever overcome the unfolding show of confusion. According to former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev who oversaw Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, the U.S mission in Afghanistan was a misadventure. In his words: “NATO and the United States should have admitted failure earlier…a failed enterprise from the start…the exaggeration of a threat and poorly defined geopolitical ideas”.
Are America’s NATOallies involved?
European leaders of allied NATO countries that rallied around the U.S during the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan sought to distance themselves from the “dramatic scenes unfolding across the war-torn country”. German Chancellor Angela Merkel described it as “bitter and terrific”, emphasizing further that the NATO mission was “fundamentally dependent” on the U.S. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson described the situation as “extremely difficult”, and went further to say that, “we ‘ve known for a long time this was the way things would go…. Nobody wants Afghanistan, once again, to be a breeding ground for terror”.
The point raised above by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson appears to be the most worrying aspect of the situation in Afghanistan today. That was, in the first instance, what led to the October 2001 invasion. A Pentagon intelligence watchdog on Afghanistan has indeed noted that al – Qaeda elements have started to return to Afghanistan with the August 15, Taliban victory.
Criticism of Biden’s haphazard and shoddy withdrawal began in the U.S long before Kabul fell. It came in the form of predictable outcomes that have become reality today; was loud and clear and cut across bi- partisan barriers. The President remained obstinate, justifying his decision founded on a poor sense of judgement with a self-satisfied admonition of “one trillion dollar cost of the war so far, is unacceptable”.
In an ideal situation, the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, National Security Adviser, Sullivan, the Chairman Joint Chief of Staff General Mark Milley and several military officers at CENTCOM ought to resign. They stabbed the Afghan army in the back when they sneaked out of Bagram Air Base at midnight on July 2, without handing over to any commander and without notifying President Ashraf Ghani of their intentions.
Bagram Air Base was the symbol of American military presence in Afghanistan. It also served the same purpose for the USSR during the Soviet military invasion 1978-1989. Let it be known that America killed the Afghan will to resist the Taliban when they left Bagram at midnight unnoticed. It was a sign of capitulation. The singular act of leaving the Afghan security forces in the lurch demoralized the Afghan army. Obviously, this would be a hard truth to accept.
In a similar vein, President Joe Biden had hosted Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah in the White House on the previous day. He assured them of continued aid from his government. No mention was made of Biden’s intention to vacate Bagram the following day. What treachery from a trusted ally?
Biden’s absent-minded withdrawal arrangement was very embarrassing from the onset. In mid-April 2021, he announced his proposed withdrawal plan to commence from May. By September 11 all American soldiers would have left Afghanistan. September 11 was meant to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the plane bombing of the New York Trade Centre.
Two weeks later he fixed August 31, 2021, as the last day of withdrawal. From that moment the Taliban seized the initiative, emboldened by the confusion between Washington and Kabul. The Taliban began a concerted effort to overrun provincial capitals with great ferocity, and indeed much success. Resistance from the Afghan security forces was feeble.
How did the Soviet Union withdraw from Afghanistan in 1989?
When the Soviet Union began the withdrawal of its troops from Afghanistan in May 1988, after the Geneva Accords, (L) there was an elaborately drawn up program strictly supervised from Moscow. The last Soviet soldier departed Afghanistan soil on February 15, 1989, as planned.
The Soviets withdrew their military personnel and a substantial amount of military materiel in nine months. During the nine months duration of a well-planned withdrawal, Soviet military planners put strategies in place and left thousands of advisers and instructors to supervise military operations against the Mujahedeen. That strategy enabled the Najibullah government to remain in office till 1992.
The U.S simply abandoned sophisticated military hardware worth billions of dollars without a well thought out plan to put them to use in a transition period. That, of course, is not surprising because there was no withdrawal plan in place. How could the Executive President of the United States walk in the dark with claims that his predecessor Donald Trump tied his hands with the Doha Peace agreement signed in February 2020?
The other argument raised by President Biden and his military chiefs is that it is unbelievable that the 300,000 Afghan security forces trained by U.S and NATO allies surrendered to the Taliban within eleven days without putting up a good fight. They have failed to understand that whatever training the Afghans received was worthless if most of the helicopters and fighter jets supplied to them broke down and there are no spare parts and trained personnel to fix them. That was the situation on the ground.
Warfare in Afghanistan without absolute use of aircraft in the country’s mountainous terrain could never have given the Afghan military a vantage point. That was the edge U.S and NATO forces used to achieve quick success during the invasion. Prescient military analysts have come to the conclusion that the weaponry supplied to the Afghan military as in other countries was meant to enrich American defence contractors, not the desired goal.
What is the Fate of those who worked with U.S and Allied NATO forces?
The greatest concern about the situation in Afghanistan today is the fate of Afghan interpreters and others who worked with U.S forces and troops of Washington’s allies. In the past, those who collaborated with invading foreign armies became targets after their exit. With members of their families, they are believed to number over fifty thousand.
Their safety was supposed to occupy a priority place at the time of exit. They and their families ought to have left Afghanistan along with the American civilian population before the departure of U.S troops from the Bagram Air Base. President Biden and his service chiefs glossed over this all-important exigency before Kabul fell to the Taliban on August 15.
More than thirty thousand American civilians and over thirty thousand interpreters remain trapped outside Kabul as of August 20, 2021. Taliban fighters have blocked all roads to the Hamid Karzai international airport, the only exit route. Germany, France and UK have announced a successful evacuation of all those who worked with their troops.
The fate of those who worked with U.S troops remains in the balance amid reports of some having been executed by the Taliban in the past three days. Pentagon officials announced that all remaining American civilians should find their way to the airport for evacuation in the midst of the confusion. Here lies the dilemma of the victims of Joe Biden’s reckless decision to withdraw troops without proper planning.