IPerhaps it is terribly timely that an invasion that began 20 years ago as a counterterrorism operation has ended with the horror of a mass casualty terrorist attack. The US-led attempt to destroy al Qaeda and rescue Afghanistan from the Taliban was undermined by the Iraq war, which spawned the Islamic State. Now the circle is complete as a branch of Afghan ISIS emerges as America’s new nemesis.
The atrocity at the Kabul airport shows how difficult it is to break the cycle of violence, revenge and victimization. Joe Biden’s swift promise to hunt down the perpetrators and “make them pay” presumably means that US fighting forces will soon be back in action in Afghanistan. If the past is any guide, mistakes will be made, civilians will die, local communities will clash. Result: more terrorists.
It is an obvious irony that the US military leaders in Kabul are collaborating with the Taliban, their sworn enemy, against the common enemy of IS when the evacuation ends. This suggests that negotiators, on both sides, may have done more to reach a workable peace agreement. It may bode well for future cooperation, for example on humanitarian aid. But the Taliban have many faces, and not many can be trusted.
The events of the past week have raised even more questions about Biden’s trial and competition. You will be blamed personally. His situation is reminiscent of the fall of another Democratic president, Jimmy Carter. After the disastrous failure of Operation Eagle Claw to rescue American hostages in Tehran in April 1980, Carter was removed from office the following November.
Biden faces Republican calls to resign. His approval ratings have plummeted. But he defiantly insists that leaving Afghanistan is the right thing to do. Polls suggest that a majority of Americans agree, although they are critical of the way it has been managed. Unlike in the Carter era, the next presidential election is three years away. By then, the agony and humiliations of the last days may be a distant memory.
The Kabul debacle also casts doubt on Biden’s new counterterrorism strategy, which allegedly lowers the threat Islamist terrorism poses to the United States. Your national security team wants to shift global priorities and resources to meet different 21st century challenges to US hegemonylike China, cyber warfare and the climate crisis.
Biden is said to want to seize the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 al-Qaida attacks in New York and Washington to Declare America’s “Forever Wars” Over – for which you will claim credit. The Afghan disaster aside, it is expected to say that the era of invasion, occupation, nation-building and the “global war on terror” has come to an end.
This revised approach to fighting terrorism will be less ambitious and more selfish. The main focus will be on direct threats to the “homeland” of the United States, not the rest of the world. Enhanced capabilities “over the horizon” will reportedly reduce the need for overseas deployments and permanent bases. Henceforth, the United States will attack threats from afar. Britain is likely to adopt a similar policy.
“The United States’ focus should be on gathering intelligence, training indigenous forces, and maintaining air power, as well as the capabilities of special forces for the occasional attack when necessary,” foreign policy analysts Bruce Riedel and Michael O’Hanlon discussed Recently.
No one knows if such an expensive and difficult to organize strategy will work in the long run. But the change is already having tangible consequences. In Iraq, for example, US combat operations will cease in December. About 2,500 Americans will stay to train and advise. In Syria, a small number of special forces will remain. Iraqis are understandably concerned about a return of ISIS and an Afghan-style implosion.
Biden has already washed his hands of the conflict in Yemen, where Saudi Arabia has waged an ineffective and highly destructive war against Iranian-backed Houthi militants. Across the Gulf of Aden, in Somalia, Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops still stands. A recent series of bombings by al-Shabaab terrorists triggered limited US airstrikes. – a probable future model.
The same story of America’s disengagement and downside is heard throughout the Middle East as The United States “turns” to Asia. Fighter jets are being reassigned, carrier battle groups may be reassigned to the Pacific theater, and anti-missile batteries are being withdrawn from Iraq, Kuwait, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Most of these assets targeted Iran, considered one of the main sponsors of terrorism.
In the Sahel, West Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Mozambique, the United States barely registers in the fight against Boko Haram and a variety of IS and Al Qaeda affiliates. The impressive named US Africa Command is based in Stuttgart. President Muhammadu Buhari warns that Nigeria could suffer a fate similar to Afghanistan without a “comprehensive partnership” with the US “Some feel that the West is losing its will to fight,” he said.
For America’s allies, this all points to a new era of forced self-reliance and greater uncertainty. While Islamist-inspired attacks in the United States have been rare since 9/11, hundreds of people have died in Europe. Still European collective efforts against terrorism they often lack a military vanguard. An exception was Operation Barkhane, poorly supported in France in Mali, until it was stopped this year after suffering heavy casualties for little benefit.
The chaos in Afghanistan has vividly dramatized the current threat of international terrorism. With up to 10,000 foreign Islamist fighters in the country, according to the UN, fears are mounting that it will once again become a launching pad for global jihad. So the prospect of less direct involvement, US homeland-centered approach to counterterrorism it is alarming for partners who depend on America’s leadership and protection.
NATO’s European allies, attacking Biden, deny it. They don’t want to admit that their Afghan withdrawal is just the beginning of something bigger. And as recent events painfully demonstrate, the UK is not remotely capable of fending for itself.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism