The Biden Administration announced that by Aug. 31, the United States would withdraw all of its armed forces from Afghanistan. President Joe Biden is attempting to end a war, which, in the early days, looked like a swift blitzkrieg offensive to quickly strike down the Taliban as retribution for the horrors of 9/11, which Osama Bin Laden nominally orchestrated. Never could anyone have thought that the war—which began in 2001—would take two long decades and kill thousands of Americans, in addition to costing trillions of dollars, only for the Taliban to regain everything they lost. Arguably, the U.S.’s refusal to negotiate terms of surrender with the Taliban has been one of the biggest foreign policy mistakes of the 21st century.
Thus, it is no surprise that the U.S. is tired of such a long, costly war with no foreseeable end. I do not necessarily dispute the Biden administration’s decision to withdraw as I see the pros and cons to it—a bit of a double-edged sword. However, the way the U.S. withdrew or the lack of plan thereof by the Biden Administration deserves severe criticism. It is beyond frustrating to see history repeat itself—watching the U.S. Embassy staff get airlifted out of Kabul like what happened in Saigon during the Vietnam War. Given Biden was a first-term senator during this fiasco in Saigon, this is substantial proof that he has not learned from his mistakes.
However, nothing is more despicable than Biden ignoring his intelligence experts who knew that the imminent collapse of the Afghan National Army (ANA) was a highly possible scenario. Furthermore, Biden repeatedly lied to the American public with false assurances that Kabul was unlikely to fall on July 8 and that there would be no chaotic evacuations like during the Vietnam War. Nothing is more upsetting when individuals, like Biden, think they know more than experts in their field. After investing $83 billion into the ANA, the army still dropped their guns before firing a single shot. As a result, the Taliban has increased its military capabilities after the ANA practically handed the Taliban firepower, including combat aircraft and ammunition.
This kind of irresponsible foreign policy sends a message to all of the U.S. allies—the U.S. abandons its allies for its own self-interests. Actions like these confirm the words of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger: “To be an enemy of America can be dangerous, but to be a friend is fatal.” U.S. adversaries are relishing every moment of this as they see the U.S.’s global trust slowly erode.
If the U.S. was hoping for Afghanistan to be similar to what Japan is to Asia or Germany is to Europe, it was a doubtful prospect. Only promoting democratic ideals in areas infested with autocratic regimes was not feasible unless the U.S. had found something to kickstart the Afghan economy. Furthermore, Afghanistan slipped down the U.S. foreign policy priorities once Bin Laden was put to justice for his crimes during the Obama era. Withdrawing troops from Afghanistan and directing them towards areas of more concern and interest to the U.S.—such as China, where tensions have been rising for years—coincides with Kissinger-like realism and a little bit of realpolitik.
The next few weeks are a significant test on whether or not the Biden Doctrine proves to be the right foreign policy for the United States. Securing the safety of U.S. and Afghan nationals who worked with the U.S. should be minimal for the Biden Administration to regain the American public’s trust and prevent what former President Gerald Ford said was “moral shame to military humiliation.”
U.S. foreign policy is something we take for granted every day, given our relatively peaceful lives. That is why, while I do not dispute the people choosing Biden as president, it is important for Case Western Reserve University’s population to consider all facets of Biden’s politics, including his foreign policy regarding Afghanistan, especially as members of a profound academic institution when voting for him on the next ballot.