In April, when the Biden administration was set to announce that the United States would withdraw its troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 of this year, an unnamed senior administration official said the deadline would have nothing to do with conditions on the ground.
“This is not conditions-based,” the official told The Washington Post.
“The president has judged that a conditions-based approach . . . is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever. He has reached the conclusion that the United States will complete its drawdown and will remove its forces from Afghanistan before September 11th.”
At the time, there were officially 2,500 troops in Afghanistan. Thanks to President Biden’s commitment to not make our troop levels dependent on a conditions-based approach, on Saturday, he had to send in twice as many troops because conditions had fallen apart so rapidly there was little other choice in order to get Americans out.
In a statement Saturday, issued as the Taliban insurgents were making sweeping gains across the country, Biden said that “based on the recommendations of our diplomatic, military, and intelligence teams, I have authorized the deployment of approximately 5,000 U.S. troops to make sure we can have an orderly and safe drawdown of U.S. personnel and other allied personnel, and an orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance.”
Biden maintained, however, he wouldn’t be changing course to slow or arrest the Taliban’s momentum.
“Over our country’s 20 years at war in Afghanistan, America has sent its finest young men and women, invested nearly $1 trillion dollars, trained over 300,000 Afghan soldiers and police, equipped them with state-of-the-art military equipment, and maintained their air force as part of the longest war in U.S. history,” Biden said.
“One more year, or five more years, of U.S. military presence would not have made a difference if the Afghan military cannot or will not hold its own country. And an endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me.”
But apparently, a hasty retreat reminiscent of the 1975 fall of Saigon that required deploying twice as many troops as he had been drawing down in the first place was acceptable.
According to USA Today, roughly 1,000 American troops still remained in Afghanistan at the time of Biden’s Saturday announcement. He’d previously stated he would be sending in 3,000 troops to evacuate Americans, allied personnel and Afghans who helped Americans during the mission there.
This came after the Afghan military — better equipped, funded and trained by the United States — was overrun by the Taliban in a matter of weeks. According to Yaroslav Trofimov, chief foreign affairs correspondent of The Wall Street Journal, the Afghan military was ill-prepared to fight without U.S. air support and intelligence and was spread too thin geographically.
Demoralized and unpaid, most chose to simply surrender to the Taliban, who offered them safe passage if they didn’t resist, Trofimov wrote.
In the statement, Biden blamed the deterioration of conditions and the hastiness of the withdrawal to the agreement to end the Afghanistan War signed by former President Donald Trump.
“When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor — which he invited the Taliban to discuss at Camp David on the eve of 9/11 of 2019 — that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021, deadline on U.S. Forces,” the statement said.
“Shortly before he left office, he also drew U.S. Forces down to a bare minimum of 2,500. Therefore, when I became President, I faced a choice — follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our Forces and our allies’ Forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict.
“I was the fourth President to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan — two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth,” he said.
Trump, however, issued a statement that said American withdrawal, under his watch, would have been conditioned upon the situation on the ground.
INBOX – Trump statement on the situation unfolding in Kabul. pic.twitter.com/1E0FHRdnfL
— Disclose.tv ? (@disclosetv) August 14, 2021
Biden, Trump’s statement said, “ran out of Afghanistan instead of following the plan our Administration left for him — a plan that protected our people and our property, and ensured the Taliban would never dream of taking our Embassy or providing a base for new attacks against America. The withdrawal would be guided by facts on the ground.”
Furthermore, it’s not as if Biden has had any problem reversing other decisions made by his predecessor. Why not this one? In fact, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday, Biden’s top military brass had urged him to renegotiate the agreement or to keep troops in the country.
“In contrast to the numerous Trump policies he reversed, he opted to carry out Mr. Trump’s deal with the Taliban instead of trying to renegotiate it,” the Journal reported.
“In so doing, he overruled his top military commanders: Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. forces in the Middle East; Gen. Austin Scott Miller, who led NATO forces in Afghanistan; and Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“Citing the risks of removing American forces to Afghan security and the U.S. Embassy, they recommended that the U.S. keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan while stepping up diplomacy to try to cement a peace agreement.”
Biden, ever the military genius, overruled them.
That’s why the U.S. was forced to deploy 5,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, trying to ensure that Americans aren’t killed or held hostage now that the Taliban are in charge, thanks in no small part to a withdrawal of 2,500 U.S. troops that Biden refused to make “dependent on a conditions-based approach.”
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