Reported in the Washington Post, April 13 2021:
President Biden will withdraw all American troops from Afghanistan over the coming months, U.S. officials said, completing the military exit by the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks that drew the United States into its longest war
The goal is to move to “zero” troops by September, the senior administration official said. “This is not conditions-based. The president has judged that a conditions-based approach . . . is a recipe for staying in Afghanistan forever. He has reached the conclusion that the United States will complete its drawdown and will remove its forces from Afghanistan before September 11th.”
Right on the surface, this story is telling us that Biden intends to fully withdraw from Afghanistan even if it means the Taliban takes complete control of the country.
The choice of withdrawal date (which feels more like a surrender date) is one that Biden has imposed on peace talks over Taliban protests. Biden has chosen to symbolically surrender to the Taliban on the 20th anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks. Talk about adding insult to injury!
The whole act may seem like the Pentagon is saving face while giving up on Afghanistan. If we keep in mind just how long this war has been and how many times it has changed direction and objective then we may find other strategies in play.
By now the original war aims of the 2001 NATO invasion are crystal clear: by overthrowing the Islamic Emirate and establishing a neocolony, the United States would be able to project force from the center of Eurasia to all corners. This was supposed to secure their world hegemony in a “New American Century”.
Obviously it wasn’t part of the plan that they’d be bogged down in Afghanistan for twenty lost years.
American strategy has changed since then, notably pivoting towards making peace with the Taliban under President Obama in 2010. The current strategic goals of the Afghanistan War are still unclear, making it easy to foresee a total failure of American efforts in 2021.
Of course, there is an exit strategy in 2021 and this is not an actual surrender. Keeping in mind the recent delisting of ETIM as a terrorist group makes it easy to see the continuity between 2001 and 2021.
Put simply, the Taliban had allowed Islamist jihadis from China to train terrorists in Afghanistan up until the NATO invasion. When the USA loses control of the country they will leave it in the hands of dedicated anti-communists with whom they share a common enemy: the People’s Republic of China.
There’s also the question of where Biden will send the personnel that exit Afghanistan. They may be withdrawn to the neighbouring states of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, or Tajikistan, all of which would put US forces even closer to Russia and China than they had been in Kabul.
And the US Army has previously established relationships with those nations on the border of China: