Stay in Afghanistan

The Taliban are a bunch or psychopaths. And now we’re going to give them a country back.

Under Taliban rule girls can’t go to school and women can’t hold most jobs. They are essentially prisoners in their own homes. And it only gets worse from there. Women are sometimes publicly flogged for transgressions like not covering their faces. How can the United States continue to be a force for freedom, for human rights and for classical liberal values and abandon these women?

But that’s the decision that Pres. Joe Biden has made. He has ordered the removal of the last 2,500 troops by the 20th anniversary of 9/11 in September. That, in turn, will precipitate the withdrawal of NATO troops as well. The Afghan government and military, which are clearly not up to the task, will be left to fend for themselves. Virtually every knowledgable observer expects a full out civil war that may well end with the Taliban in control of the whole country or with the country divided between a host of rogue administrations.

Here’s what David Sedney, a senior Obama Administration official who was among those responsible for Afghan policy, said about Biden’s decision:

“I think he is dead wrong.

“The threat from al-Qaida and from ISIS in Afghanistan has not gone away. The pledges by the Taliban to combat that have been shown by the United — by a recent United Nations report to have been lies.

“So, trusting the Taliban, which is what this administration is doing, with the future of American security and counterterrorism is a very bad idea.”

And, of course, there’s no reason not to fear that this will result in the reestablishment of the training grounds for international terrorism that brought America to the country in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Afghan women will be at risk when the U.S. leaves their country.

A couple thousand troops was a small price to pay to keep the Taliban in check and to keep the human rights progress we had established, especially for women, in Afghanistan. To quote the New York Times, “Though progress has been uneven, girls and women now make up about 40 percent of students. They have joined the military and policeheld political officebecome internationally recognized singerscompeted in the Olympics and on robotics teams, climbed mountains and more — all things that were nearly impossible at the turn of the century.”

I surely understand why Biden and others want to take even the relatively small number of American troops out of harm’s way. About 2,400 Americans have lost their lives in Afghanistan and 20,000 have been injured over the last two decades. But if we stay for as long as it takes for this progress to take hold so that it becomes irreversible, then all that sacrifice will have increased meaning. If we leave now, it’s likely that all progress will be swiftly reversed.

With Biden’s decision, we’re risking a far more dangerous situation in the region and all over the world. I understand why he did it, but I can’t help but feel that this decision will come back to haunt us over the course of the next several years.

Published by dave cieslewicz

Madison/Upper Peninsula based writer. Mayor of Madison, WI from 2003 to 2011.

3 thoughts on “Stay in Afghanistan

  1. As long as the Taliban has safe haven in Pakistan whenever the US attacks, and Pakistan harbors the Taliban without consequences, the Taliban will never be defeated. As President Biden asks, ‘So when will it be the right moment to leave? One more year, two more years, ten more years? Ten, twenty, thirty billion dollars more above the trillion we’ve already spent?’ His decision is good policy and good politics.

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    1. Good points and I don’t think the near-term defeat of the Taliban is in the cards in anyone’s view. The real questions are: does this withdrawal make them stronger or weaker and does it make the U.S. safer or less safe?

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