Afghan withdrawal was a disaster

To the editor:

Most Americans would agree it was time to end our military involvement in Afghanistan. The same number would likely find fault with the manner in which the withdrawal was completed.

It is reported that Biden made the decision in April 2021 to end U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan by Sept. 11, 2021, the 20-year anniversary of the attack on America which had to be the most objectionable date for withdrawal one could have chosen. Did Biden and his advisers not consider the possibility of the Taliban regaining control of the country by then and what withdrawal on that date would symbolize on the anniversary of the date thousands of Americans died? Someone realized the idiocy and the deadline for withdrawal was changed to Aug. 31.

Biden, the military, and the State Department assured us over and over that no one would be left behind. On Aug. 19, during an interview on ABC, Biden, when pressed if he would change his deadline for leaving if all Americans were not out, said “if there are American citizens left we’re gonna stay to get them all out.” On Aug. 18 Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said “we will evacuate all Afghans that helped us.” The very next statement out of his mouth was “we will get out as many as we can.” “All” is much different than “many”. On Aug. 30, after the final withdrawal of U.S. troops, Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, Commander of the U.S. Central Command, said “we did not get everybody out that we wanted to get out.”

Yet, in order to meet his arbitrary withdrawal date of Aug. 31, that he himself had set, Biden abandoned American citizens and perhaps thousands of Afghan Allies. Those left behind became hostages, left to the mercy of the Taliban, al-Qaida, and ISIS. Many may yet get out but the Taliban will dictate the terms. Perhaps payment of billions in ransom? Or giving recognition to their government of terrorists?

Biden called the Afghanistan evacuation “an extraordinary success.” But before he takes a victory lap we should pause to reflect on reality. Recalling images of the evacuation of Saigon in April 1975 as the North Vietnamese were overrunning South Vietnam, reality in August 2021 is thousands of Afghans trying to flee as the Taliban regained control of Afghanistan, desperately rushing the gates at the Kabul airport, some even clinging to departing jets only to fall to their deaths. Reality is not only Americans and Afghan allies left behind but the blood of 13 dead and at least 15 wounded service members left behind, casualties (including the blood of hundreds of dead and injured Afghans) from a suicide bombing at the Kabul airport that occurred during the withdrawal. And to think we relied on Taliban terrorists, our enemy, to provide security around the airport.

Robert Gates, who served as Secretary of Defense during the Obama-Biden administration, stated in his memoir that Biden “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades.” The withdrawal from Afghanistan was a disaster. And Biden prematurely celebrated the claim that a high-profile ISIS member died in a drone strike that occurred during the withdrawal when in fact 10 civilians, including seven children, died. Biden’s record remains intact.

Chuck Peterson

Fort Dodge


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