President Biden wise to end Afghan war — but why choose 9/11 to do it?
Biden called George W. Bush to discuss Afghanistan pullout
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US to fully withdraw troops from Afghanistan on 20th anniversary of 9/11
The longest war in United States history is finally coming to a close: President Joe Biden announced Wednesday a full force withdrawal from Afghanistan by Sept. 11.
It’s a bittersweet moment for America and her troops: The move is an admission of US failure — despite the cost of $2 trillion, 2,300 lives and 20,000 wounded casualties. But it’s also a recognition of reality and, one hopes, the end of ill-considered nation-building.
Though why Biden would fuel the enemy’s propaganda by making the pullout date the 20th anniversary of al Qaeda’s catastrophic terrorist attacks is beyond us. President Donald Trump negotiated a withdrawal by May 1; Biden’s delaying the final pullout a few months. As usual, the Biden administration is messing up what Trump already accomplished — whether out of incompetence or spite.
Speaking in the White House’s Treaty Room, where President George W. Bush announced the war’s launch in October 2001, Biden noted he’s the fourth president to oversee the conflict: “I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth,” he said. “War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking.”
Indeed: The initial mission — to rout al Qaeda and its terrorist-training bases and oust the Taliban, whose regime had sheltered them — succeeded within months. Special Operations forces worked well with the anti-Taliban locals the Northern Alliance, taking territory and sending terrorist leaders fleeing to Pakistan.
But the mission then shifted to nation-building — trying to turn a feudal nation into a modern one, with rights for women and a strong, stable central government. That intervention stalled out disastrously: By 2009, the Taliban had resurged. At its peak, the war saw 100,000 American troops in the mountainous country, along with coalition forces.
The 2,500 US troops left now, along with 7,000 NATO troops that will exit as well, haven’t stopped the Taliban from retaking territory. And “peace” negotiations have been a mixed bag at best. (No surprise, when the enemy doesn’t believe the Afghan people have any vote on their government.)
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell complained on the Senate floor that Biden was abandoning a “fight against terrorists that we’ve not yet won” — but that victory isn’t in sight. Far better, as Biden said, “to defend ourselves and our partners with all the tools at our disposal” when the need arises.
Osama bin Laden was hiding in Pakistan when Seal Team Six took him out, yet “we’ve stayed in Afghanistan for a decade since,” Biden noted. Decide for yourself just when this war stopped making any sense, but it’s time to go.
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