"Biden Commits To Forever War On Afghanistan"
Moon of Alabama (February 23, 2021)
The forever war on Afghanistan will continue.
The U.S. and its NATO proxy force have spent nearly 20 years and a trillion dollars to "do something" in Afghanistan. What that something was to be was never clear. There were attempts to impose some kind of enlightened model of governance on the Afghan people. But anyone with knowledge of that country knew that this would never work.
Bribes were handed out left and right and Afghan warlords, many of whom hold government positions, enriched themselves by scamming the occupation forces. They naturally do not want that to end. There are also Afghans who do not want to live under the heel of corrupt warlords and ignorant occupation troops. They are called Taliban and get support from Pakistan and Arab countries which the U.S. calls 'allies'. The occupation forces tried to fight them but after nearly 20 years of wars the Taliban again rule over half of the country. Even while the warlords still have military support from the occupation forces their troops are losing in nearly every engagement.
Militarily the war against the Taliban has long been lost. Even with the 100,000 'western' troops the Obama administration had sent there was no way to win it.
President Donald Trump made efforts to end the useless war on Afghanistan. He negotiated with the Taliban to remove all 'western' forces by May 1. The agreement also commits the Taliban to not attacking those forces and to negotiate with the warlord government in Kabul on power sharing. They agreed to that after the U.S. promised that Taliban prisoners of war, held by the Afghan government, would be released.
The Afghan government had and has of course no interest in losing power. At least not as long as still gets sponsored by 'western' money. It also did not want to let prisoners go as those would just turn around and again fight against it. A year ago the Trump administration threatened to withhold money should the Afghan government not follow the negotiated terms:
Facing collapse of Afghan peace talks before they even start, the Trump administration has threatened to withhold up to $2 billion in aid unless President Ashraf Ghani and his main rival put aside their political differences and open negotiations with the Taliban.
The threat was the sharpest sign yet that the Trump administration is distancing itself from its Afghan ally and moving closer to the Taliban. The longtime U.S. adversary has in effect become a wary partner as President Trump seeks to withdraw thousands of American troops before the November election and end America’s longest war.
The Kabul government is heavily dependent on international assistance. U.S. aid was expected to total $4.3 billion this year, all but $500 million of which was earmarked for training and equipping the Afghan army.
The threat worked as expected. But when it became clear that a new management would take over the White House the Afghan government again tried to stall the process. Today the talks resumed but they are unlikely to achieve any results:
Peace talks between the Taliban and the Afghan government have resumed in the Qatari capital Doha after weeks of delays, escalating violence and a change in US diplomatic leadership as the Biden administration began.
Taliban spokesman Mohammad Naeem tweeted on Monday night the resumption of the talks, which were the outcome of an agreement between the Afghan armed group and the US in February 2020.
But the administration of President Joe Biden is reviewing the agreement, which was aimed at ending the longest war the US has fought.
... When talks ended abruptly in January, days after they began, both sides submitted their wish lists for agendas which they now have to sift through to agree on negotiation items and the order in which they will be tackled.
The priority for the Afghan government, Washington and NATO is a serious reduction in violence that can lead to a ceasefire, the Taliban have until now resisted any immediate ceasefire.
Washington is reviewing the Doha peace agreement the previous Trump administration signed with the Taliban as consensus mounts in Washington that a delay of the withdrawal deadline is needed. The Taliban have resisted suggestions of even a brief extension.
Without financial pressure there is no chance that the Afghan government and the Taliban will ever reach a power sharing deal. Even if there would be an agreement there is little chance that it will be upheld by all sides. The conflict would likely reignite and the Taliban would win.
The obvious consequence should be to just follow Trump's plan and to leave as soon as possible.
But Trump was bad and thus the Biden administration is discussing three options:
If the US leaves in the next three months, it’s likely the Taliban will overrun the US-backed Afghan government and once again make life worse for millions of Afghans, especially women and children.
Staying in Afghanistan just a little bit longer would likely delay that takeover, but would also expend any diplomatic capital the US has left with the Taliban and keep US troops in harm’s way.
Finally, violating the terms of the agreement and remaining indefinitely will almost certainly lead the Taliban to restart its campaign, put on hold ahead of the May 1 deadline, to kill American service members in the country.
Biden could follow Trump's agreement with the Taliban and order the troops home. He could sell that as a victory and a fulfillment of a campaign promise.
But with the blob again in power that option had little chance to survive:
The opinion editors at The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal may not agree on much, but they are both determined to oppose bringing forces out of Afghanistan as our war there approaches its 20th anniversary, raising the specter of “withdrawing irresponsibly.” Meanwhile conservative establishmentarians like Washington Post columnist Max Boot, and his cohort on the center-left side of the dial, David Ignatius, as well as Madeleine Albright, make common cause for keeping troops in Afghanistan as Biden’s “best option.” Today’s “stay” advocates, which include Republicans like Lindsey Graham making the media rounds, may all be coming from different plot points on the Washington political grid, but keeping the United States committed to a desultory, unwinnable conflict unites them. Their messages are circulated and amplified by social media and establishment friendlies, and among big cable news outlets. Thus, a consensus is born.
The blob is usually fond of claims that "all options are on the table". Here it was keen to take one away:
Multiple US officials told me in recent days that the administration’s Afghanistan policy review is nearing its end, with one telling me they expect Biden to make a decision “very soon.”
“I don’t know which way the president will go,” said this official, who like others spoke with me on the condition of anonymity to talk freely about a sensitive national security deliberation. Another person familiar with the Afghanistan discussions told me it’s clear a full withdrawal by May 1 is “off the table.”
This again demonstrates that the U.S. is no longer agreement capable. By staying longer than May 1 the Biden administration will breach an international agreement the previous administration had made.
It is unlikely that the Taliban will agree to a prolonged stay of any troops from such an unreliable entity. They will rescind the ceasefire and the war will again enter a bloody phase:
[F]ew think Biden will withdraw all US troops by May 1, which means he will be keeping US service members in the country with or without the Taliban’s approval. If he does it without their approval, that could lead the insurgents to attack and kill American personnel as they overtake major Afghan cities, perhaps even Kabul.
At that point, withdrawing from Afghanistan would be harder, experts say, because the administration won’t want to look like it’s running away from the fight. A return to a larger war, then, would likely ensue, leading to more death and woes for the millions of Afghans who’ve already suffered tremendously.
Unfortunately the decision by the Biden administration was utterly predictable. The military-industrial complex will not allow a retreat from a profitable battlefield and Biden is way too weak to resist its pressure.
Posted by b on February 23, 2021 at 17:19 UTC