The hasty retreat of the U.S. military represents Joe Biden’s first big failure since he arrived at the White House.
The hasty withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan has become Joe Biden’s first big failure since he arrived at the White House. The U.S. president has suffered a setback, and it is still not possible to measure exactly how its shock waves will affect future decisions. In yesterday’s appearance, Biden admitted misjudging the situation, but blamed the Afghan authorities for “fleeing” when faced with the Taliban’s attack, saying that they are “not willing to fight for themselves” despite the military, financial and logistical support provided during the last two decades. Biden was unable to justify the serious errors of an operation that has ended in humiliation for the United States. Diplomats have had to be evacuated as a matter of urgency, Afghan authorities have surrendered — when a negotiation was expected — and the airport in Kabul has erupted into chaos, to the point where all civilian and military flights were suspended and at least five deaths were recorded. The heartbreaking scenes of panic show the harsh reality of Taliban terror.
As no battle has been fought, technically it cannot be said that Washington’s military has suffered. However, the fact that the Taliban, removed from power by the United States 20 years ago, have regained control of Afghanistan represents an indisputable geopolitical defeat. The fiasco of the mission that started in 2001 can be attributed to four presidents: it started with George W. Bush, continued with Barack Obama and Donald Trump — both signed a contract with the Taliban to fight the Islamic State and al-Qaida — and it has ended with Biden. As well as the economic motivations that lurk in the background of this decision, the embarrassing conditions of the withdrawal are Biden’s sole responsibility. The spectacular failures of both the White House’s plans and the intelligence service, unable to estimate the speed of the insurgent offensive, are unfathomable. It is even more shameful when bearing in mind that the person who could lead the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, a former prisoner of Guantanamo Bay who was freed by the U.S. The responsibility also extends to the U.N., which did too little too late, and to the countries that participated in the international coalition that was supposed to facilitate democracy in Afghanistan.
The Taliban are a despicable group of extremists who are responsible for public executions, corporal punishment and fierce repression against women. The risk now, as well as of increased instability in the region, is that a refugee crisis will be triggered. Hence the major frivolity of the Spanish political party Podemos, which has already asked to accept civilians out of “direct responsibility.” In the case of Spain, Pablo Casado’s demand for Pedro Sánchez to provide public answers about the repatriation of personnel in Afghanistan is appropriate. The evacuation must happen as quickly and as safely as possible.
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