We had two choices with Afghanistan.
- From Austin Bay, “Understand that I think that since 9/11, America’s essential mission in Afghanistan has been what I call Guard Duty Writ Large. I first used that description in 2012. To protect U.S. national security at home and abroad, America had to attack and damage militant Islamic terrorist organizations. That meant denying them bases in anarchic regions, like Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan. Denying doesn’t mean we have to occupy those places. It definitely doesn’t mean we need to engage in nation building and culture-changing — those are mega-challenge…We can strike Yemen and Somalia from the sea. Landlocked Afghanistan presents a problem. The closest air bases are six to seven hours away. Guard duty in Afghanistan means — or meant — maintaining an on-the-ground presence, primarily to support Afghan forces and refuel allied aircraft, but also to occasionally conduct U.S. air and ground raids on high-value targets throughout the region. The special operations raid that killed Osama Bin Laden in his Pakistan compound was launched from Afghanistan..Many in the defense and intelligence community agree that guard duty was the essential mission. Some argued nation building would ultimately give pro-democracy Afghans the tools to guard themselves. We did try that. Afghan corruption undermined the effort.” Bay’s point is that we should have kept a small group and a base to protect our interest and this doesn’t mean nation building.
- The second was to defeat the enemy which we did and leave, letting it be known if we will come back if you allow your country to be used as a terrorist base. Jordan Schachtel made this point in a couple of pieces and noted from a UK Guardian report, ” The Taliban, which ruled over Afghanistan under its Islamic Emirate banner, was seeing its territory facing constant bombardment from U.S. fighter jets. American forces made quick work of the most threatening elements of jihadist defences, having successfully decimated virtually every major target assigned to them in a week’s time. In this poverty-stricken land, populated by mud huts, subsistence farms, and mountain ranges, we’re talking about mostly weapons depots and crude militant bases. The Taliban had witnessed the full wrath of the most powerful military in the world, and wanted the devastation to come to an end…In a series of events that seems to have been entirely swept into the banned books section of history, Taliban leadership decided to reach out to the Americans. They offered up the one target U.S. forces seemed to be unable to locate: none other than Osama Bin Laden himself. ” There may have been a time in the beginning a deal with the Taliban could have been had including the capture of Bin Laden. We could have our deal to protect our interest and avoid a 20 year failure. Austin Bay added, “It didn’t have to be this way. A well-executed withdrawal would have saved their lives and perhaps saved the anti-Taliban government. The acronym is NEO — Noncombatant Evacuation Operation — “the departure of civilian noncombatants and nonessential military personnel from danger in an overseas country to a designated safe haven … The U.S. military is highly skilled at NEO. Even a NEO involving an area as large as Afghanistan could have been planned and prepared in 30 to 45 days if the Joint Chiefs of Staff had coordinating power and the State Department arranged for temporary refugee housing in third-country safe havens. The decision to withdraw from the huge air base at Bagram was utterly stupid, at least until threatened Afghans were extracted.”
- China and Russia now controls Central Asia, and we have no real bases in the region to conduct anti terrorist if needed. As JD Johannes, an associate of mine, noted on my podcast, the Chinese will not make the same mistakes we made and end up bribing the Taliban while gaining control of trillion dollars worth minerals.
We had two choices, one was to leave guard duty which meant continue troops but not enough to nation building or we retreat orderly and get our citizens and those who aided our efforts. Nation building was a failure and our retreat was a disaster and that is on this administration beginning with Joe Biden. We can argue what went wrong with our Middle East policy over the past two decades and need to.
Bob Gates, who served both Democratic and Republicans administration, observed about Joe Biden that he has never been right on a major issue in his career and he did oppose Obama’s effort to eliminate Bin Laden in 2011. This merely reinforces what Gates noted, Joe Biden is not a deep thinker and not often right. Joe Biden has botched this badly.