Between a Rock and a Hard Place Robert A. Levine
President Biden has been taking a ton of flack recently for the way the evacuation from Afghanistan has been going. While the planning for the removal of all American personnel and Afghanis who aided the American military, NGOs and press appears to have been problematic, it should be remembered that the Trump administration boxed in Biden with it’s initial agreement to have all U.S. troops out by Christmas 2020. This was contingent on the Taliban’s promise to stop fighting and negotiate an end to the war and shared governing.
Trump and Biden both agreed that it was time for American forces to leave Afghanistan after twenty years and for the Afghan troops to defend their country from the Taliban on their own. They had been well armed and trained by the Americans but aside from the commando units have shown no determination to fight. In fact, they have taken off their uniforms and surrendered all theirs arms and equipment to the Taliban, afraid to resist the Taliban’s advances. This occurred in city after city adding even more urgency for America to evacuate all personnel. It also was a reminder of the foolhardiness of spending twenty years, several thousand American lives, and trillions of dollars supporting a corrupt Afghan regime that had little support from its population. Even President Ghani ran away instead of trying to rally the Afghan people and military against the Taliban.
With Kabul and the entire country now controlled by the Taliban, the United States has had no option other than to withdraw from the country. Much of the chaos surrounding the evacuation through Kabul airport has been because the Taliban has not kept their promises of allowing all foreigners and Afghanis who wanted to leave, leave. They have prevented their own citizens and foreign personnel from getting to the airport, the only open exit from the country. People outside of Kabul have had difficulty getting to the city because of all the checkpoints and roadblocks on the highways. People in the city have had problems reaching the airport, being turned back by the Taliban at the checkpoints they have established within the city. These actions were contrary to the promises they made with the Trump negotiators and that great statesman Mike Pompeo.
Thus Joe Biden and the American military have been caught between a rock and a hard place. Do they send troops into Kabul and the countryside to locate and evacuate any Americans, foreigners and Afghans who aided us and want to leave, and risk likely casualties to our troops? Or do we just evacuate those who are able to get through to the airport and leave the others behind? Either path is a losing proposition left by Trump for his successor. Why didn’t Trump try to end the twenty years war himself and evacuate all the personnel who needed to get out?
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