Biden's Greatest failure
Jeremy Young '24
On August 10th, 2021, President Joe Biden attempted to do something previous presidents had never been able to do before. Despite numerous promises and plans, the war on terror in Afghanistan had been ongoing for 21 years and Biden decided to take action. In his first major move since becoming president, he decided to pull the few 3,000 remaining troops the US had stationed in Afghanistan out. A plan that backfired on him immediately. Almost at once the Taliban took back Afghanistan, returning to their prior rule.
Biden’s decision, which had seemingly come out of the blue, continued to unveil new horrible side effects throughout the weeks to come. And how did the President himself respond? When the nation needed him the most, when he had a job to do and people to save, he went on a weeklong vacation because the Afghan people and US citizens in Afghanistan and American people scared at home and the thousands of American soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice and innocent Afghans who were caught in between the crossfire weren’t worth his time. He left the real work to be done by the brave soldiers who decided to try to clean up the mess he had created. This leaves the question, when was the last time the US looked this inept? When was the last time we were completely baffled by something so obvious? If it took us 21 years ongoing to keep the Taliban under control is it unexpected that when they are left unchecked they will go right back to what they were doing! Now we are left to see what happens while China, Russia, and Iran laugh at the biggest American failure since the hostage crisis in Iran, and each day more and more American and Afghan lives are taken because of Biden’s inability to do his job. Within 24 hours Biden had completely erased the sacrifices of American soldiers, their families, the Afghan people who trusted them for protection, and the 978 billion dollars the US had spent in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020.
First of all, since the media always wants to point fingers as to who is responsible, there is no question who is responsible for this disaster. Make no mistake, this isn’t some freak coincidence that could have happened to anybody, this isn’t the fault of the young Afghan government who were left out to dry, and this is definitely not the fault of the US military, the blame for this entire debacle, the pulling of troops and evacuation of citizens the entire blame rests on Joe Biden.
What should have Biden done differently? Pulling troops from Afghanistan appeared to be a good idea at first. According to The Chicago Council on Global Affairs report in July, 7 in 10 Americans supported the idea of withdrawal. This has always been the problem with policy in the Middle East, the public majority tend to favor limiting the U.S. involvement as much as possible. The problem with this, is that as evident by what is going on right now in Afghanistan and what has happened earlier in Syria, the US is the only thing keeping the region stable. Without the U.S., each country will revert right back to the way it was prior to the U.S. occupation. With this being said, the US didn't need to maintain a large presence in Afghanistan to achieve stability. Going into August, it had been 18 months since a US service member had been killed in Afghanistan with just 2,500 soldiers in Afghanistan. To put that number in perspective, there were around 200,000 active duty service members stationed around the world that year and only 2,500 of them were in Afghanistan yet they were able to prevent the Taliban from taking back the entire country.
The root of the problem is that Biden doesn’t truly understand what the goal of the US being in Afghanistan was. The goal of Afghanistan was to help keep the newly appointed Afghan government in power and achieve stability while protecting the Afghan people safe as well as US and our allies safe in the region. The main US interest was to prevent Afghanistan from becoming the global terrorist hub and ultimately from preventing another 9/11 terror attack on the US. We realized a long time ago that totally defeating the Taliban was never going to be possible. The Soviets couldn’t do it, the US failed for decades. If you think the goal of having troops in Afghanistan was total annihilation of the Taliban then we would most likely never have been able to achieve that. But using new technology such as drone strikes, we have greatly limited the number of terror attacks from the Taliban and limited the number of US troops in Afghanistan. When Trump took office, he supported withdrawing troops but recognized the danger saying that the US could not afford a hasty withdrawal. He was absolutely right. He took office at a time of increased attacks from the Taliban, but by the end of his administration, the US held a very limited presence in Afghanistan. How differently would this situation have been handled under the previous administration?
For any of us in high school, there have been US troops in Afghanistan for our entire lives. August 30th marked the first day in our lives that there haven’t been US troops in Afghanistan. But for a war that lasted 20 years, the rushed seemingly unplanned evacuation took all of two weeks. The entire plan in the first place seemed rushed but the evacuation seemed the worst. If Biden failed to meet the deadlines he set, so what? So long as as many Americans were saved as possible no one would mind running over a deadline by a few days because after all, we were there for 20 years! Looking at pictures of the US base in Kabul with Afghans all around, in one case even handing babies over the barricade was heartbreaking and the images looked nothing short of apocalyptic. Because of the complete chaos that surrounded the evacuation, Americans were left behind in Afghanistan. The exact number is unknown, Politico estimates around 100, but that fact is unsettling; the Americans left behind will most likely face an awful fate similar to those left in Vietnam. To put it in other words, because Biden prioritized deadlines instead of planning out a safe and orderly evacuation, American citizens will die in Afghanistan.
Immediately following the pull out of troops, Biden ordered a drone strike against “ISIS” in the area of the airport. First of all, Biden only took this action to clear the attention away from the disaster of getting Afghans out. Second of all, Biden did this to show that he was capable of making decisions and taking actions in Afghanistan. Immediately after the attack, he claimed that he had done this to take out ISIS members who posed an immediate threat to American soldiers, which as we now know is false. Biden’s drone strike hit 10 Afghan citizens, 7 of whom were children. This drone strike wasn’t to prevent attacks against American; he had already failed to protect American soldiers the day before. Afghan children and citizens died because of a desperate Biden trying to show Americans that he knew what he was doing when he didn't. This one action taken by Biden shows a clear distinction between this administration and the last. Whereas Trump took action against terrorists to protect US lives from potential risks, Biden takes action to avenge lives already lost. Trump was willing to take criticism over defending US lives in the Middle East. In contrast, Biden waited and American lives were lost as a result. When Biden said, “We will hunt you down and make you pay,” to the terrorist who killed 13 US marines, what did it change? Thirteen lives are lost and nothing can change that, this attack changes nothing even if he had hit a terrorist. Now even more innocent lives are lost because Joe Biden was desperate to show people that he could do his job.
While many people worried (and rightly so) only for the American lives in Afghanistan, now that most of them are out we need to think of the Afghan people who supported us and will now face consequences for it. While Biden and others believe he can save lives with diplomacy, they forget who we are dealing with. This is the same organization that committed mass executions against Hazaras, Uzbeks, and Tajiks in 2001. In 2015, they went door-to-door killing civil servants, activists, and journalists in the town of Kunduz. In 2021, they were responsible for the deaths of 917 civilians according to the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission. In July 2021, they detained between 380 and 900 civilians who had criticized the Taliban and executed 40-100 of them. Not to mention their systemic and well documented cases of the Taliban’s atrocities towards women. It seems like the U.S. have forgotten what a real terrorist organization is and what they do. The Taliban aren’t a group the US will be able to negotiate with now that we have no leverage.
Looking back at the decision to pull troops out now, it leaves us with the question, why? If you told us that the US would have to keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan for the rest of time to prevent what has happened in the last month I would have accepted that. In order to keep peace in Afghanistan and to build a stable nation in a region that has known nothing but instability for the last half century, the US has to keep troops in Afghanistan, not many but some. Now that troops are out of Afghanistan with Biden leading our country, the US is exposed. The US has failed to protect our soldiers in Afghanistan and has been unable to even retaliate. The era of safety and protection under the US in the Middle East is over and now we will have to rely on our allies to keep the area safe and prevent terror attacks from that region.