In early July, President Joe Biden confirmed his intention to withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan by September 2021. Biden cited a February 2020 U.S. “agreement” with the Taliban that he had “inherited” from the Trump administration. In truth, President Donald Trump had made no agreement. He had already begun pulling troops out by October 2019 and signed a fig leaf to cover his unconditional withdrawal.
Biden reassessed other Trump policies and could have reassessed this one, not least since the Taliban were in violation even of their vague paper promises — most notably on their commitment to deny space to al Qaeda and negotiate peace in good faith. The truth is that Biden is ideologically committed, as Barack Obama and Trump were, to ending American involvement in “forever wars.” Regardless, this does not mean those wars end or the threats that drew the United States in actually go away.
In the last week, as Biden’s Afghanistan draw-down proceeds, at least nine provincial capitals have fallen to the Taliban. It is quite conceivable Kabul will fall before the year’s end. When asked about any of this (about Pakistan, whose secret police control the Taliban, or about China, a great power rival that stands to gain from America’s retreat), the Biden administration’s statements have been delusional. We should be very worried if administration officials actually believe what they’re saying.
Less noticed amid this carnage has been a major flare-up in Deraa in southern Syria, an area ostensibly pacified by Bashar Assad and Iran in 2018.
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