Wednesday, April 14, 2021

An End At Last

From the Washington Post:

President Biden will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan over the coming months, U.S. officials said, completing the military exit by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that drew the United States into its longest war.

The decision, which Biden is expected to announce Wednesday, will keep thousands of U.S. forces in the country beyond the May 1 exit deadline that the Trump administration negotiated last year with the Taliban, according to a senior administration official who briefed reporters Tuesday under rules of anonymity set by the White House.

While the Taliban has promised to renew attacks on U.S. and NATO personnel if foreign troops are not out by the deadline — and said in a statement it would not continue to participate in “any conference” about Afghanistan’s future until all “foreign forces” have departed — it is not clear whether the militants will follow through with the earlier threats given Biden’s plan for a phased withdrawal between now and September. The Taliban has conducted sputtering talks with the Afghan government, begun under the Trump deal, since last fall. It was also invited to an additional high-level inter-Afghan discussion in Turkey later this month.

Officially, there are 2,500 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, although the number fluctuates and is currently about 1,000 more than that. There are also up to an additional 7,000 foreign forces in the coalition there, the majority of them NATO troops.

America has the unfortunate and tragic pattern of sticking with a policy regardless of its fruitless outcome and cost. Cases in point: the war in Vietnam, which cost over 58,000 American lives and millions of casualties and deaths in Vietnam itself, and the embargo against Cuba. In both, hardliners told us that if we just stuck to our guns, both literally and figuratively, victory was in sight and we would be vindicated. Vietnam today is the way Ho Chi Minh envisioned it nearly 70 years ago, and Cuba is still under the thrall of the Castro-led revolution.

There are soldiers stationed in Afghanistan who were not born when the war began. And while the war was our response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the Taliban is still in control of much of the country. The mastermind of the attacks has been dead for nearly ten years. We should admit that we have done all we can, leave the country to work out its own problems, and go home.

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