Last Wednesday, President Joe Biden announced he would withdraw all US ground troops from Afghanistan by September 11, the two-decade anniversary of the attacks that brought on the war. Then he visited the fallen at Arlington National Cemetery. A reporter asked him whether his decision was hard to make. “No, it wasn’t,” Biden replied. “To me, it was absolutely clear.”
Biden’s clarity shone through in the reasons he gave for terminating the mission in Afghanistan. Criticizing the grandiose and ill-defined objectives pursued by his successors, Biden refused to order US soldiers to engage any longer in a mission they could not achieve. He acknowledged that war among Afghans would likely continue, but he resolved to remove Americans from combat.
The president’s determination will nonetheless be tested in the months ahead. Biden already declined to complete the withdrawal by the 1 May deadline he inherited from the previous administration. That deadline had the virtue of preceding Afghanistan’s violent summer season. Now the Taliban is poised to take the offensive and could target Americans on the way out. Whether that happens or not, one thing is certain: those who got the United States into its quintessential forever war will do their utmost to block the exit.
A predictable chorus previewed its lines of attack as soon as Biden made his announcement.
Read the full article in the Guardian.