“Double Eagle’s” Serial Commentary
Even as the Vice-President with Obama, Biden was opposed to keeping US troops in Afghanistan. When Obama supported the Army’s request for a troop surge in 2009, VP Biden strongly opposed it. It is also known that most Americans did not want their soldiers and airmen to remain in that country after Bin Laden was taken out.
Biden made the announcement in May this year, that he will pull out all US troops by the end of August. His desire was to complete the withdrawal before Sep 2021 (the 20th Anniversary of 9/11 attacks on the USA).
Whether the Pentagon (Sec Def, ret Gen Loyd Austin) opposed the move is not known. My guess is that the military did not like the idea. Gen Austin would have seen the risky downside of such a hasty withdrawal, but being a political appointee would have preferred to remain uncommitted. Sec State Anthony Bliken, a longtime ally of Biden, is sure to have backed the President. Nat-Security Advisor Jake Sulliven also would have backed the President.
This was a rare issue where both Biden and Trump were on the same page. But, the rapid collapse would have surprised everyone in Washington DC. Only time will tell whether it was an intel failure, miscalculation by the State Dept, or some other unknown factor.
Why the Taliban is not interfering with current US operations at the Kabul International Airport is puzzling.
Yet, the US Army troops at Kabul Intl Airport are patiently and caringly helping the innocent Afghan men, women and children to get out of the country. It’s the soldier that ultimately shoulders the burden of protecting the innocent when politicians have bungled.
But none would have expected such a rapid collapse. Was it a US Intelligence (CIA/ DIA) failure, State Dept miscalculation, or some other bizarre factor? …..only time will tell.
Only soldiers understand the cruelty and brutality of war. Yet, humans will continue in the deadly game of armed conflict.
A Spanish Scholar Francis George Santayana famously asserted that “Only the dead have seen the end of war.”
Biden was correct in his decision to pull out U.S, troops from a potentially never-ending Afghan commitment. However, he erred in the manner in which he did it. He could have pursued a carefully planned, phased out withdrawal without getting trapped in the misnomer ‘all troops out before the end of August’.
NATO would have followed. Under such a plan, U.S. and NATO could have simultaneously evacuated Afghan nationals who supported them, their own nationals, and finally Afghans who opted to leave.
One of the cardinal principles of a successful insurgency is ‘Protracted War’. Insurgents do not set out deadlines to achieve victory.
Biden unfortunately set a withdrawal deadline and played right into the insurgent strategy.
“Double Eagle” is the authorial pseudonym adopted by a retired Sri Lankan Army Offiicer.