Ever since his announcement six months ago, I’ve criticized President Joe Biden over the unnecessary and immoral Afghanistan surrender.
The tragic events over the last two months unfortunately vindicated these criticisms; now, due to the Biden administration’s misguided actions, a shift in attitudes toward our commitments abroad is occurring.
Quinnipiac’s latest poll presented bad news everywhere for the president, but perhaps overlooked was that only 28% of voters still supported a full withdrawal from Afghanistan. The majority favored keeping a military force behind.
“When confronted by the consequences of Biden’s policy of retreat from foreign conflicts, Americans have rediscovered that they prefer engagement to ignominious surrender,” Noah Rothman recently wrote at Commentary Magazine.
Are Americans fatigued by the long conflict? Sure, when you shout “time to come home” on cable news for years, even though almost no one is dying, misinformation has an effect.
But Americans are now rightly concerned about our safety at home, and the majority believe a few boots on the ground is worthwhile as a deterrent against theocratic madmen who abhor the west.
Even within a 5,000–word essay by a foreign policy guru criticizing interventionism, the author confessed that leaving Afghanistan the way Biden did was foolish, saying “the cost of remaining beyond 2021 would have been minimal” and we “could have supported 2,500 soldiers in Afghanistan almost indefinitely.”
Of course, the footprint was light and not risky.
“But just as the initial light footprint was better than the surge, so the later light footprint was better than a total withdrawal. A few thousand international troops, supporting air operations, were still capable of preventing the Taliban from holding any district capital — much less marching on Kabul,” former British Secretary of State for International Development Rory Stewart claimed. “And by preventing a Taliban takeover, the troops were able to buy valuable time for health and educational outcomes to improve, development assistance to continue, income and opportunity to grow, and rights to be more firmly established for millions of Afghans.”
Stewart, who spent time as a key official in both Afghanistan and Iraq, is correct.
The Taliban “won” after 20 years because an impatient United States withdrew. To top it off, we crippled the Afghan military upon departing, cutting off their troops, and most heinously, hundreds of Americans still remain behind enemy lines.
The catastrophic decision to withdraw was driven not by safety, facts, or our larger foreign policy objectives, but by partisan domestic politics.
The administration so opposed the Bush and Trump administration’s post-9/11 foreign policy that they refused to explain how minimal our presence in Afghanistan had become or what it protected.
“Advocates of retrenchment from America’s post-9/11 obligations abroad now must defend their position against the undesirable real-world consequences their policy preferences produce. Full withdrawal from Iraq gave way to the rise of an unspeakably violent, abusive, and repressive terrorist caliphate, requiring America’s return to the theater,” Rothman concluded. “Full withdrawal from Afghanistan has so far given way to the very same thing, the full consequences of which are yet to come.”
And despite what Biden thinks, Taliban thugs, who’ve now spread into Pakistan, will not live up to any bargain he offers.