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  1. #1
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Biden Made the Right Call

    Biden Was Right

    The president made a difficult but necessary choice.
    By Daniel Silverberg (Atlantic)


    Jim Huylebroek / The New York Times / Redux
    AUGUST 17, 2021SHARE

    About the author: Daniel Silverberg is a former Department of Defense official and, until recently, the national security adviser to the House majority leader.

    In 2017, I arrived at Kabul’s Hamid Karzai Airport as part of a congressional staff delegation. Even though the U.S. embassy stood a mere four miles away, safety concerns necessitated our helicoptering from a recently constructed multimillion-dollar transit facility instead of traveling by road. As we flew over Kabul, I realized that the Afghan security forces, backed by thousands of U.S. personnel, could not even secure the heart of Afghanistan’s capital.

    Kabul was not lost yesterday; the United States and our Afghan partners never truly had control of the country, nor of its capital. Once the Taliban had secured an agreement that the United States would be pulling out and that forces would be reduced to minimal numbers before Joe Biden’s presidency began, they merely had to wait.

    The dozens of congressional briefings I attended over 14 years of working on Capitol Hill underscored this dynamic. The intelligence community would commence each briefing with a stark assessment regarding the fragility of conditions in Afghanistan. Senior defense leaders would then provide a far more optimistic view, one that often gave a sense of progress, despite the Herculean challenge with which they had been tasked.

    Various critics of President Biden are engaging in fantasies amid Kabul’s collapse: if only we’d used more force, demonstrated more will, stayed a few months longer, then the Taliban would have adopted a different strategy. John Allen, a retired Marine general and former commander of forces in Afghanistan, argued last week that Biden “should issue a public redline” and that “just this announcement will help the Afghan government and give the Taliban pause.” Ryan Crocker, a former ambassador to Afghanistan, was sharply critical of the withdrawal of the last 3,500 troops. Fred Kagan, of the American Enterprise Institute, argued that “keeping American military forces in Afghanistan indefinitely” would be “worth it.”

    These criticisms ignore the developments of the past decade and downplay the impact of last May’s announcement. Even the Biden administration’s harshest detractors mostly concede that the United States would eventually have had to withdraw from Afghanistan. According to the U.S. military, the Taliban was stronger this year than it had been since 2001, while the Afghan defense forces were suffering from high rates of attrition. At some point, the attack on the Afghan government would have come, and U.S. troops would have been caught in the middle—leaving the U.S. to decide between surging thousands of troops or withdrawal.

    Some critics also argue that the United States should have preserved a residual force in Afghanistan, much as we have in South Korea. There are any number of ungoverned spaces today, however, which pose as great a threat, if not greater, to U.S. security as Afghanistan, and few are calling for U.S. deployments to those areas. There is a cost—financial and military—to tying forces down in a project that was ultimately doomed to fail.

    Finally, critics are lobbing the usual refrain that the withdrawal has damaged U.S. credibility. “Afghanistan’s Unraveling May Strike Another Blow to U.S. Credibility,” read a headline in The New York Times; “Afghanistan’s Collapse Leaves Allies Questioning U.S. Resolve on Other Fronts,” echoed The Washington Post. The United States has spent billions of taxpayer dollars, fought for more than 20 years, and suffered thousands of casualties in this war. If that sort of commitment lacks credibility, our allies will never believe we are doing enough. Critics likewise argued that withdrawal from Vietnam would hurt our credibility. In reality, Japan and other allies questioned our ability to protect them not because we withdrew from Vietnam, but because the United States was militarily overstretched. Withdrawal did not undermine our credibility; by consolidating our efforts, it might enhance it.

    The United States had multiple opportunities over the past 20 years to pursue an end to its involvement in Afghanistan. Shortly after the initial invasion, the U.S. rejected a reported offer of surrender. In 2011, peace negotiations were suffocated in their infancy by political opponents and a wary Pentagon. President Biden has demonstrated courage in finding a path forward where others merely fought to preserve the status quo.

    Now policy makers should focus on mitigating the fallout of this disaster. First, Congress—led by advocates such as Representatives Jason Crow and Seth Moulton—should redouble its efforts to allow for the immigration of vulnerable Afghans.

    Second, Congress and the administration should revitalize engagement with Pakistan and our regional partners in order to contain the fallout from Afghanistan. Pakistani leaders rebuffed both the Bush and Obama administrations’ efforts to cooperate on counterterrorism and instead played a dangerous double game, providing succor to terror groups like the Haqqani Network while accepting billions as part of our counterterror effort. U.S. officials should approach Pakistan in a bluntly transactional manner by asking its leaders to assess the cost of preventing terror groups from using its borderlands as a refuge.

    Finally, the United States should repurpose the international-coalition framework used during combat operations in Afghanistan, turning it into the basis of a sustained diplomatic mission. The coalition should keep eyes on the ground in Afghanistan, engaging with Taliban officials where appropriate. This will be challenging without military forces in the country, but it is not impossible, and even a minimal level of observation would be better than the neglect we chose after 1995. The coalition should also collaborate on measures to encourage the Taliban to prevent its territory from being used as a launching point for terrorist attacks. Last, the coalition should maintain UN-based sanctions on the Taliban to pressure the new government to preserve the rights of women and minorities, including the Shiite Hazara population.

    Biden faced a set of bad options. He ultimately made the difficult but necessary choice to preserve American lives. That decision will have devastating consequences for Afghanistan, and we will learn more in the coming days regarding how the administration might have executed its plans better. But as I saw for myself in 2017, and as many others had also observed, the government we supported never truly controlled the country it governed. Biden did not decide to withdraw so much as he chose to acknowledge a long-festering reality, one accelerated by the previous administration’s withdrawal announcement.
    Majestically enthroned amid the vulgar herd

  2. #2
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    How long should we have stayed in Afghanistan?

    Unless the answer is 'forever' the fall to the Taliban was going to happen at some point. While I feel sorry for the Afghan women, unless we simply adopted the benighted country as a kind of expensive, troubled stepchild, we were never going to make a permanent change there.

  3. #3
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    FFS , do we really need another thread on this?

  4. #4
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    Biden made the right call, unfortunately just a bit early. He should have got the people and equipment out first.

    If the speed of the Taliban takeover was a surprise, then it’s a sad condemnation of on the ground intelligence. FFS we have had 20 years to establish their capabilities.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iceman123 View Post
    If the speed of the Taliban takeover was a surprise, then it’s a sad condemnation of on the ground intelligence. FFS we have had 20 years to establish their capabilities.
    This is where the real issue is. Did most of the military brass who happen to be right wing in many cases throw Biden under the bus for political reasons?

  6. #6
    Thailand Expat helge's Avatar
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    The way they left Bagram was...surprising, and hardly the best way to keep the....motivation high among afghan army personel.

    A motivation where a monthly paycheck probably was the main part for many.

    Anyway; a clumsy retreat by......Biden.


    He's the boss

  7. #7
    ความรู้ลึกลับ HuangLao's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by helge View Post
    The way they left Bagram was...surprising, and hardly the best way to keep the....motivation high among afghan army personel.

    A motivation where a monthly paycheck probably was the main part for many.

    Anyway; a clumsy retreat by......Biden.


    He's the boss
    Is he?
    Truly?

    Others might suggest that the puppet masters are never heard or seen.

  8. #8
    Thailand Expat helge's Avatar
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    There is ofcourse that

    "In the name of Biden" then ?

  9. #9
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Yes, he made the right choice. This was a long time in the making and I suspect people were expecting him to back out.

    Now they know he is a man of his word.

    People will have forgotten Afghanistan in a week or so, they will move back to whining about mask mandates and 5G chips in vaccines.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post

    People will have forgotten Afghanistan in a week or so, they will move back to whining about mask mandates and 5G chips in vaccines.
    I am sure the hundreds of thousands who lost a loved one in a fruitless campaign will take comfort in your kind words.

  11. #11
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Iceman123 View Post
    I am sure the hundreds of thousands who lost a loved one in a fruitless campaign will take comfort in your kind words.
    I doubt they will, but it doesn't make it any less true.

  12. #12
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    ...neo con Condoleeza Rice, Dubya's favorite toadie, think's a Korean solution would have been a better idea...the US could have kept troops in Afghanistan forever...

  13. #13
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bsnub View Post
    Did most of the military brass who happen to be right wing in many cases throw Biden under the bus for political reasons?
    ...this. I wonder how so many top level advisers with so much unfettered access to up-to-the-minute data could not have seen the quickly encroaching Taliban...if I were Biden, heads would roll and the reason for firings would be made clear...

  14. #14
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    I think the idea of withdrawal was right but the execution and especially the timing wrong. The Taliban were on the offensive since May and this should have been quashed first with a massive use of the existing forces from all participating nations.

    The withdrawal should then have started, with the Taliban on the backfoot, during the winter when they have retreated across the various borders.

    Only when the majority of the Afghan advisors were safely evacuated should the withdrawal have been announced and the military withdrawn.

    What has happened is a complete cock-up.

  15. #15
    Head Skivvie Stacker Storekeeper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomcat View Post
    ...this. I wonder how so many top level advisers with so much unfettered access to up-to-the-minute data could not have seen the quickly encroaching Taliban...if I were Biden, heads would roll and the reason for firings would be made clear...
    Should we start with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army?

  16. #16
    Thailand Expat harrybarracuda's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Troy View Post
    I think the idea of withdrawal was right but the execution and especially the timing wrong. The Taliban were on the offensive since May and this should have been quashed first with a massive use of the existing forces from all participating nations.

    The withdrawal should then have started, with the Taliban on the backfoot, during the winter when they have retreated across the various borders.

    Only when the majority of the Afghan advisors were safely evacuated should the withdrawal have been announced and the military withdrawn.

    What has happened is a complete cock-up.
    Idealistic at best.

    What you forget is that the talitubbies just melted into the population and no-one was going to give them up.

    One of the main reasons the army collapsed so quickly is that they knew their families would cop it if they resisted.

    The talitubbies are integrated into the very fabric of Afghan society.

    That's why the only way your could really get rid of them is by turning the place into glass.

  17. #17
    Im bored AF Backspin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cujo View Post
    FFS , do we really need another thread on this?
    How many threads do you have going of Trump and republicunt lunacy ? A dozen ?

  18. #18
    Im bored AF Backspin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by helge View Post
    The way they left Bagram was...surprising, and hardly the best way to keep the....motivation high among afghan army personel.

    A motivation where a monthly paycheck probably was the main part for many.

    Anyway; a clumsy retreat by......Biden.


    He's the boss
    The Soviet regime lasted 3 years.. The US regime didn't last 3 days. Because they didn't want it to. Who knows what their thinking is. But they internationally turned it over to the Taliban. They aren't this incompetent. Incompetents can't explain it.

  19. #19
    Thailand Expat lom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Backspin View Post
    But they internationally turned it over to the Taliban.
    Was the UN involved?

  20. #20
    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harrybarracuda View Post
    One of the main reasons the army collapsed so quickly is that they knew their families would cop it if they resisted.
    One of many.
    - 20 years of having your rich Uncle Sam covering your back and deciding to stop kinda promotes an every man for himself attitude.
    - Having your political leaders flee the country not the best move to shore up morale.
    - Last and certainly not least, self survival! "Fuck this. No way I'm going to die for this shit."
    Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

  21. #21
    Thailand Expat tomcat's Avatar
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    Biden Made the Right Call-retreat-kabul-jpg
    Britain’s Retreat from Kabul 1842...plus ca change...


  22. #22
    ความรู้ลึกลับ HuangLao's Avatar
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    White Man's Burden.

  23. #23
    Days Work Done! Norton's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Backspin View Post
    Who knows what their thinking is.
    A wild guess would be the polls and their impact on next election.
    In 2001, 70% thought a great idea to go into Afghanistan.
    20 years later, 70% say time to get out.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Storekeeper View Post
    Should we start with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army?
    If I was Biden they would be summoned to the WH to answer some hard questions.

  25. #25
    Excommunicated baldrick's Avatar
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    the agreement was signed in feb 2020 - seppos out in 18 months

    where was the surprise ?

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