Is Biden right to keep Afghanistan withdrawal deadline 8/31?
- On the morning of Thursday, August 26, 2021, suicide bomers were responsible for at least two explosions near the airport in Kabul where thousands gathered to escape the country. “A bummer of US & civilian casualties” were reported via Pentagon press secretary John Kirby.
- After the Taliban gained control of Afghanistan in the last couple weeks, they “insist” the airlift has to end by August 31, 2021. President Biden is keeping to that deadline with the defense that “every day we’re on the ground is another day we know ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport and attack both us and allied forces and innocent civilians.”
- On February 29, 2020, the US and the Taliban reached an “agreement for bringing peace” under the Trump administration. They had agreed to remove US troops in 14 months provided the militants banned al-Qaeda and extremist groups from areas of Taliban control.
- On Wednesday, April 15, 2021, Biden announced that he would withdraw the remaining US troops from Afghanistan by September 11, the anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks carried out by al-Qaeda.
- Critics worry the withdrawal “not only imperils US counterterrorism efforts, but that it also endangers Afghanistan’s fragile democracy.”
- Although troops will be removed, Biden said the US “will assist Afghan forces, diplomatic, and humanitarian work in the country.”
- Since the start of the war in 2001, 2,312 US military personnel have died and 20,066 service members have been injured.
The war and occupation of Afghanistan have gone on long enough. No excuses and not one day more; President Biden is right to stand firm with his August 31st withdrawal deadline. As we have seen from the previous three administrations, who lacked the stomach to finally end the multigenerational war, there is always an excuse to stay longer. Rather than extend the deadline for withdrawal, the Biden Administration should do everything in its power to evacuate as many people as possible and put a plan in place to aid those who are left behind.
While there is no doubt that the United States military can defeat the Taliban in combat situations, these warlords have made it clear that any extensions of the United States occupation will be interpreted as aggression. If the US and its allies should decide to stay longer and risk confrontation with the Taliban, it's important to consider how this would affect the civilian population of Afghanistan. Fighting has occurred largely around the airport in Kabul, where there is a huge crush of families attempting to flee the country. Ironically, by delaying the withdrawal and staying longer, the United States may put the very individuals it is trying to help in danger. Staying longer could expose these people to violence and the complete barbarism of the Taliban.
It is time to begin a new era of policies and relationships with Afghanistan. We must not turn our backs on the people of Afghanistan but rather forge new policies aimed at holding the Taliban responsible for human rights.
With the 8/31 deadline looming, it is unlikely we will be able to get all American citizens and our Afghan partners out of the country in time. Both Democrats and Republicans have begged Biden to extend the deadline, most notably, congressmen who served in Afghanistan. But it's clear Biden is determined to stick to the timeline seized upon by the Taliban.
Our Nato allies have all advised Biden to stay longer to help more people get out of the country. Today’s Kabul airport attacks are an important reminder of what's at stake, and how dangerous the consequences of our actions can be. Because the US has the largest presence in Afghanistan, when we leave, it will force other countries to pull out as well. This means we have put several of our allies on tight deadlines to get their own troops, citizens, and contractors out of Afghanistan. This obviously causes problems not only in Afghanistan but also negatively impacts our international relationships.
Previously Biden had set a withdrawal date of 9/11 before changing it to the arbitrary 8/31 deadline just six weeks ago. Biden could return to a later date or possibly negotiate another date, giving the US and its allies much-needed time to evacuate. However, Biden seems content to cave to dictates from the Taliban and is refusing to use US military strength to do what we need to do before abandoning the region.
The failure of this president to push back even with support from the G-7 shows our extreme weakness not only to the Taliban but also to countries like Russia and China, who may want to take advantage of the US in the future. Biden should listen to our international allies and fellow US lawmakers and extend the withdrawal deadline. America does not leave people behind.