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The war is over, but Biden’s Afghanistan challenge is not over

Washington – In the final stream of US freighters soaring to the top of the Hindu Kush Mountains, President Joe Biden fulfilled his campaign promise to end the longest war in the United States.

However, the president was particularly out of sight as the war ended with a chaotic, bloody evacuation and hundreds of US citizens and thousands of Afghans supported the US war effort. He left it to the Senior Military Commander and Secretary of State to tell the Americans about the last moments of the conflict that resulted in the American defeat.

Biden issued a statement praising more than 120,000 Afghans, US citizens and the US military overseeing the airlift of its allies for “unparalleled courage, professionalism and determination.” He said he had more to say on Tuesday.

“This concludes our 20-year military presence in Afghanistan,” Biden said in a statement.

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The silent reaction was informed by the harsh reality: the war may be over, but Biden’s Afghanistan issue is not.

The president still faces the challenges of the war, such as how to pull out 200 Americans and thousands of Afghans, resettlement of tens of thousands of refugees who could escape, and scrutiny of Congress. doing. How, despite the increasingly noisy warnings, the administration was captured in line by the rapid collapse of the Afghan government.

Through the withdrawal, Biden suffered short-term pain for his adviser to resist bipartisan and international pressure to extend his August 31 deadline to end US military evacuation efforts. He showed that he was willing to endure what he wanted to be. For more than a decade, Biden has believed in the worthlessness of the conflict and has argued that the Taliban’s routing of Afghan troops has been delayed, if not welcomed.

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Turning pages in Afghanistan has repeatedly insisted on refocusing the United States on the growing challenges posed by hostile China and Russia, and shifting the focus of US counterterrorism to areas of greater threat. It is an important foreign policy goal for Biden.

But in his efforts to end the war and reset US priorities, Biden may also have undermined the core premise of the 2020 White House campaign. Trump’s “America First” approach.

“To those who have made a name for themselves as compassionate leaders, he seemed very rational and even cold-hearted in pursuing this goal,” said Jason Lyall, an associate professor at Dartmouth College. Stated. ..

Allies, including members of Britain, France and Germany, struggled to evacuate citizens and Afghan allies and suffered Biden’s claim to meet the August 31 deadline. Armin Laschet, a leading conservative candidate to take over Angela Merkel as German Chancellor, called it “the biggest blunder that NATO has suffered since its inception.”

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At home, Republicans are calling for an investigation into the Biden administration’s evacuation process, and even Democrats support an investigation into what went wrong in the last few months of the fateful occupation.

At the same time, the massive suicide bombing on the final day of the evacuation that killed 13 US troops and more than 180 Afghanistan raises new concerns that Afghanistan will once again become a breeding ground for terrorists.

Biden accused his predecessor, Donald Trump, of tying his hand. He reminded people repeatedly that the Republican administration had inherited an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw US troops by May of this year. By opposition to the deal, Biden argued that the US military, which had left without death in the war since February 2020 until Thursday, would have re-entered the Taliban’s crosshairs.

The president’s adviser also made a strategic failure, with the now exiled Afghan government, led by Ashraf Ghani, resisting finding a political compromise with the Taliban and spreading the mostly reckless Afghan security forces too thinly. Dissatisfied.

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Republicans, and even a few Democratic allies, have exhausted criticism of the government’s treatment of evacuation. This is a problem that GOP is trying to weaponize against Biden.

Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy said Biden’s withdrawal date on Monday was a political date designed for photography. McCarthy’s criticism did not mention that it was Trump’s White House that mediated the deal to end the war.

“There was a moment when this president was listening to his army, there would still be terrorist prisoners in Bagram, we would drive out all Americans, the army would be in front of the Americans. Wouldn’t have left, “McCarthy said. The crisis he has faced in this administration has failed. “

It remains to be seen if Biden’s criticism of Afghanistan’s response will resonate with voters. An Associated Press-NORC poll conducted in early August found that 6 out of 10 Americans said war was not worth fighting.

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An ABC News / Ipsos poll conducted August 27-28 found that about 6 out of 10 Americans were opposed to Biden’s response to the situation in Afghanistan. The poll also found that most people said the United States should stay in Afghanistan until all Americans and Afghanistan who supported the United States were evacuated. Polls did not ask if people more generally approved the withdrawal.

After supporting the US invasion in 2001, Biden became skeptical of US national efforts and deeply doubted the Afghan government’s ability to develop its ability to sustain itself.

His opposition to the 2009 “surge” of US troops deployed in Afghanistan when he was Vice President placed him on the losing side of the conflict with defense facilities and within the Obama administration. Biden told his aides in recent weeks that he considered his advice against expanding American involvement more than a decade ago as one of his most proud moments in public life.

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But his tendency to speak absolutely did not help his cause.

In July, Biden repelled concerns that the Taliban would inevitably take over the country. A few weeks later, the group defeated the Afghan government.

The president also reminded Americans of the US evacuation from Vietnam at the end of the 1975 war, when photos of helicopters evacuating people from the roof of the US embassy in Saigon symbolized US failure. He expressed confidence that he would not see it.

In fact, they saw images of desperate Afghans flocking to Kabul Airport — at least one died after clinging to a departing US aircraft.

Biden told ABC News George Stephanopoulos in an interview on August 18 that the purpose of the U.S. military in Afghanistan was to drive out “everyone,” including Americans and Afghan allies and their families. He promised to stay until the US military carried out its mission.

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But Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Monday that “there were a few Americans under the age of 200, perhaps close to 100, who remained in Afghanistan and still wanted to leave.”

Rapid military evacuation is now succumbing to darker diplomatic operations to put pressure on the Taliban so that Americans and their allies can depart peacefully by other means.

Biden believes that Afghanistan has some influence over the Taliban as it faces the economic crisis caused by the freeze on most foreign aid, making the former US enemy a viable partner. rice field. However, US commanders say the situation in Afghanistan could be further confused in the coming weeks and months.

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Editor’s Note — Aamer Madhani has been covering the Associated Press White House since 2019. ZekeMiller has been covering the White House since 2012.

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Associated Press writers Calvin Woodward, Kevin Freking, and Emily Swanson contributed to this report.

Copyright 2021 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

The war is over, but Biden’s Afghanistan challenge is not over

Source link The war is over, but Biden’s Afghanistan challenge is not over

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