The president frames the departure from Afghanistan within a new policy focused on China, Russia and cyberterrorism
“The war is over,” President Joe Biden announced this solemn Tuesday, without the slightest shadow of guilt. It was time to finish it. But what ended was not only the war in Afghanistan, he clarified, but the era of US interventionism with which Washington has tried to build democracies around the world in its image and likeness, always unsuccessful.
No more “major military operations to remake other countries,” he promised. It is time to tell the truth to the Americans, said the president, staring at the cameras. The counterterrorism mission in Afghanistan evolved into an attempt to “create a cohesive democracy and a united Afghanistan”, something in which it failed miserably, despite having invested two trillion dollars and the lives of 2,461 Americans. “It was something that had never been done in many centuries of Afghan history,” he justified.
For those who thought that “that mentality and those large-scale military deployments” in other countries would allow them to feel more secure at home, Biden shook off the mirage and reminded them of the price paid. He was not referring to the 300 million dollars a day, and not even the list of lives lost that he keeps in his wallet, but the 18 veterans who commit suicide every day, the nightmares that make them sweat at night, the divorces , the lost birthdays, the children who grew up without a father, the amputees … “I don’t think people are aware of the sacrifice we are asking of the 1% in uniform,” he recalled.
If he knows it, it is because his own son Beau served in Iraq, lived in his own Vietnam in his head and died of cancer, but also because from that sensitivity he has met with the families of veterans throughout these years, the last on Sunday, when he had to receive the families of the thirteen soldiers killed in the attack on Thursday. “May you burn in hell!” She shouted as a woman who had just received her brother’s body was leaving.
“I refuse to send another generation of children to fight a war that should have ended long ago,” the president rebelled on Tuesday, not caring about his fall in the polls. “I refuse to continue a war that no longer serves our vital interests of the national security of our people.”
For the president, the fourth who faces the war in Afghanistan, it is time to look to the future. In that crystal ball he sees other threats, such as that of China, who “would like nothing more than to see the United States muddy in Afghanistan for two more decades.” Or the challenges of Russia, where he believes he is fighting “on multiple fronts.” Cyberattacks, nuclear proliferation, 21st century competition, he listed.
Chaos and loss of life
Turning the page on US foreign policy, Biden promises not to forget Afghanistan, a country he intends to support through diplomatic and humanitarian means, but not ISIS-K either: “We are not finished with you,” he warned threateningly. The military “coup” that he carried out from the air this weekend was not exactly something to brag about, since in it seven children of a single family were killed, getting out of a car, but Biden believes “firmly that he is the best way to safeguard our security.
As wrong as it sounds, many Americans agree with him. Afghanistan has not been his war for a long time, perhaps, as the president put it, since he hunted down Osama Bin Laden on May 2, 2011, when he sat as Barack Obama’s vice president in the White House bunker. None of this prevents the vast majority of public opinion that supported the withdrawal from believing that its poor organization is responsible for the chaos and loss of life. On that, too, Biden showed no remorse. In his opinion, no matter how he did it, he would have faced chaos and if he has guilt to distribute it is not around him, but to President Ashraf Ghani who surrendered at the first exchange after having promised him during his visit to the White House a month before he would resist the Taliban onslaught.
“The greatest military failure”
The speed with which they took the capital on August 15 surprised locals and strangers, because even the Taliban spokesmen have confessed that they expected to have to negotiate power with the president, who did not wait to see them arrive. Undoubtedly, the upcoming Congressional investigations will take that mitigating factor into account, but neither history nor the legislators themselves anticipate benignly in their verdict. House opposition leader Kevin McCarthy has called it “probably the biggest military failure of the US government” he has ever seen. “We cannot make that mistake again,” he has proposed.
The eventual success of the largest evacuation in history, which has removed 123,000 people from Afghanistan, is thus clouded by images of desperate civilians climbing into planes and handing babies to soldiers, not to mention a trail of bloody bodies in the sewers. It is estimated that 175,000 Afghans who were part of the American dream in the country have been trapped, pending the promise of freedom of movement that the United States has wrested from the Taliban by handing over the airport this Tuesday, the last piece of the country that it was left in the hands. Among them, almost 4,000 students from the American University of Afghanistan, a symbol of modernity.
The ‘Washington Post’ called him Tuesday in its editorial as “a moral disaster.” Fox’s talking heads referred to Kabul’s departure as ‘impeachment’ negligence. The war is over, the hangover of defeat has begun.
The last to leave Kabul
Chris Donahue. This is the name of the last American military man who stepped on Afghan soil before boarding the C-17 with which he concluded, at 11:29 p.m. on Monday, the definitive withdrawal of the United States from the Central Asian country.
In a country very given to living life with the epic of a film, the photograph of a historical moment could not be missed, taken with a night vision device from a window so as not to betray the takeoff of the aircraft. The oldest walks down the runway at Kabul airport before boarding the plane.
Donahue commands the 82nd Airborne Division of the Army, based in North Carolina. It is a Corps specialized in air assaults and evacuations and has a long history behind it, as it fought in both world wars, as well as in the Gulf and Iraq wars. His intervention has been decisive in the Afghan mission since 2001.