President Biden has announced that America’s forever war in Afghanistan is finally coming to an end. He says that U.S. forces will exit the country by next September 11.
That’s a good thing. And it is long overdue.
But there is one big problem with Biden’s timetable: It violates an agreement that the U.S. government entered into with the Taliban to exit the country by May 1 of this year.
Under that agreement, the Taliban agreed not to attack U.S. troops prior to their scheduled departure on May 1. With Biden’s decision to deliberately violate the agreement by unilaterally extending the withdrawal to September 11, he is knowingly placing the lives of the 3,500 American servicemen still in Afghanistan at risk.
In fact, the Taliban has implied as much. According to the Washington Post, a Taliban spokesman declared back in April, “If the agreement is breached and foreign forces fail to exit the country on the specified date, problems will certainly be compounded and those whom failed to comply with the agreement will be held liable.”
What’s the point of extending the departure? Is an extension to September so important that it’s worth risking the lives of American servicemen still in Afghanistan? If some soldiers are killed or maimed because Biden cavalierly decided to violate the agreement, will their sacrifice have been worth it? What about the lives of innocent Afghan civilians caught in a crossfire or in a bomb explosion designed to kill U.S. troops?
Take a look at this article in USA Today. It’s by a quadruple amputee who lost his arms and legs in Afghanistan. He says it’s time to leave. He says, “I don’t need any soldier to honor me by doing the same thing.”
But that’s exactly what Biden is risking by intentionally, knowingly, and deliberately violating an agreement that the U.S. government willingly entered into.
Moreover, as Elliot Ackerman, a former Marine and intelligence officer who served five tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, pointed out in an article in the New York Times,
[R]emoving the 3,500 American troops from Afghanistan is, in military terms, what’s called a “fighting withdrawal,” in which an army leaves the field while still in contact with the enemy. Of all the maneuvers an army can perform (advance, flank, defend, etc.), it is widely accepted that a fighting withdrawal is the most complex and difficult because you are neither attacking nor defending, and so are exceedingly vulnerable.
Unlike the withdrawal from Iraq, in which U.S. troops could drive through the desert into Kuwait as they did in 2011, and unlike the Soviet withdrawal in 1989, in which they could drive across a then-shared border, U.S. troops are currently marooned in Afghanistan, reliant on three principal U.S.-controlled airstrips (Bagram, Jalalabad, Kandahar), making their journey home all the more perilous.
If the Taliban decide to attack U.S. troops from now until September, Biden will have their blood on his hands. He should never have breached the agreement that U.S. officials willingly entered into with their enemy.
This first appeared on Jacob Hornberger’s blog.