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Biden Has a No-Win Position in Afghanistan No Matter What He does

Summary:
Biden's Decision Has No One HappyPresident Biden pledged to leave Afghanistan by the end of the year. That is not soon enough for most but not all of the Left, and too soon for most if not all of the Right.Regrets Coming?The National Review reports Biden May Regret His Afghanistan DecisionI find the use of the term “forever war” to refer to Afghanistan disingenuous, as the state of U.S. troops over there cannot accurately be described as a war, particularly in the past year or two. There are certain allegedly bright foreign-policy minds who never really updated their rhetoric or thinking from the late Bush years, and who apparently can’t be bothered to notice changes in circumstances on the ground. Our presence in Afghanistan has grown so small and low-profile, it seems reasonable to ask

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Biden's Decision Has No One Happy

President Biden pledged to leave Afghanistan by the end of the year. That is not soon enough for most but not all of the Left, and too soon for most if not all of the Right.

Regrets Coming?

The National Review reports Biden May Regret His Afghanistan Decision

I find the use of the term “forever war” to refer to Afghanistan disingenuous, as the state of U.S. troops over there cannot accurately be described as a war, particularly in the past year or two. There are certain allegedly bright foreign-policy minds who never really updated their rhetoric or thinking from the late Bush years, and who apparently can’t be bothered to notice changes in circumstances on the ground.

Our presence in Afghanistan has grown so small and low-profile, it seems reasonable to ask what the consequences will be of removing those 3,500 or so troops. As luck would have it, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released its annual threat assessment earlier this week. The appraisal of Afghanistan is grim: “We assess that prospects for a peace deal will remain low during the next year. The Taliban is likely to make gains on the battlefield, and the Afghan government will struggle to hold the Taliban at bay if the coalition withdraws support. Kabul continues to face setbacks on the battlefield, and the Taliban is confident it can achieve military victory.”

The New York Times assures us that: “The agencies do not believe Al Qaeda or other terrorist groups pose an immediate threat to strike the United States from Afghanistan, an assessment that the Biden administration considered pivotal as it weighed continuing the war or pulling out forces this year.” The problem is, at some point later this year, or next year, or the year after that, there is a good chance we will see the headline, “TALIBAN RULES AFGHANISTAN AGAIN.” Ask yourself how that development would impact global Islamist jihadism.

Lawmakers Divided 

The New York Times reports Lawmakers Divided Over Biden’s Plan to Withdraw All Troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11

Republicans and some Democrats say it could embolden the Taliban, while others in his party say it is time to end the ‘Forever War.’ 

Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a moderate New Hampshire Democrat who backed the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq nearly two decades ago, criticized President Biden, arguing his decision could embolden the Taliban to further destabilize the country.

“I’m very disappointed in @POTUS’ decision to set a Sept. deadline to walk away from Afghanistan. Although this decision was made in coordination w/our allies, the U.S. has sacrificed too much to bring stability to Afghanistan to leave w/o verifiable assurances of a secure future,” Ms. Shaheen wrote on Twitter shortly after the president announced he would withdraw all troops by Sept. 11, 2021.

Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking Republican in the House and the daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, blasted the policy shift as a capitulation.

“Wars don’t end when one side abandons the fight,” she said in a statement that echoed her father’s hawkish rhetoric in selling the wars at the start. “Withdrawing our forces from Afghanistan by Sept. 11 will only embolden the very jihadists who attacked our homeland on that day 20 years ago.”

Biden’s Afghan Exit

The Wall Street Journal's editorial board offers this view on Biden’s Afghan Exit.

Mr. Biden inherited a bad situation as President Trump had negotiated a May 1 withdrawal date. As the U.S. drew down its forces, the Taliban failed to cut ties with al Qaeda and have captured military bases around the country.

Whether the U.S.-backed government can survive is unknowable, though it’s unlikely to have much influence outside Kabul.

John Sopko, the Pentagon’s special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said last month that without U.S. support the government “probably would face collapse.”

In January the U.S. Treasury said al Qaeda was “gaining strength in Afghanistan while continuing to operate with the Taliban under the Taliban’s protection.” 

The tragedy is that there is a reasonable alternative to withdrawal. Withdrawing all U.S. troops risks the return of al Qaeda and ISIS.

Time to End the War

“We cannot continue the cycle of extending or expanding our military presence in Afghanistan, hoping to create ideal conditions for the withdrawal and expecting a different result,” Mr. Biden said Wednesday. “I’m now the fourth United States president to preside over American troop presence in Afghanistan. Two Republicans, two Democrats. I will not pass this responsibility on to a fifth.”

“War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking,” Mr. Biden said. “We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives. Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is degraded in Iraq and Afghanistan. And it’s time to end the forever war.”

The above snips courtesy of the Wall Street Journal. 

The Tragedy

The tragedy is interventionalists cannot think. They want the US to stay in. 

But staying in invites escalation that only fools cannot see despite a Treasury report that shows "al Qaeda is gaining strength in Afghanistan."

The War Mongers at the National Review act as if there will be no escalation by the Taliban if "only" we just stay in. 

Yeah, right. 

Biden's No Win Position

If we stay in, the interventionalists will seek more troops for as long as it takes, undoubtedly at least another 100 years. 

If we leave and Kubul falls the interventionalists will say "see I told you so."

But if we leave and nothing happens, expect Republicans to praise Trump for setting a withdrawal date of May 2021 rather than Biden for actually pulling the troops.

Biden, Trump, Obama

Curiously, Biden, Trump, and Obama all had the same goal: Getting out of Afghanistan. 

It remains to be seen if Biden actually succeeds where the others fail. If he does, here is my response:

Hooray!

I am tired of all this war mongering insanity. Get the troops out.

Moreover, no matter what happens, don't put the US Troops back for any reason.

Finally, don't put US troops where they do not belong on nearly endless missions in the first place.

If Kabul falls, I don't give a damn just as I did not give a damn when Saigon fell to the Viet Cong two years after we left Vietnam.

By "not give a damn" I mean I would not risk one US soldier defending any place where US troops do not belong in the first place.

The US cannot afford to be the world's policeman nor should we try even if we could afford it.

Will Biden Leave?

Intervention Logic

Biden Has a No-Win Position in Afghanistan No Matter What He does

“Wars don’t end when one side abandons the fight,” said Liz Cheney.

Excuse me for pointing out the War in Vietnam is over. 

No matter what happens I will not regret leaving just as I did not regret leaving Vietnam. 

Get out and stay out!

Importantly, Biden will deserve praise no matter what happens if he does get out. Just don't expect any.

Mish

Mike Shedlock
Mike Shedlock (Mish) is a registered investment advisor representative for SitkaPacific Capital Management (http://www.sitkapacific.com/). Sitka Pacific is an asset management firm whose goal is strong performance and low volatility, regardless of market direction.

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