There was a moment in the Second Senate session about the hearing on withdrawal from Afghanistan when it became clear why President Joe Biden had decided to withdraw troops there as soon as possible.
It came as General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, explained why he and other chiefs – senior officers of the Armed Forces, Air Force, Navy, and Marines – all agreed that we should leave with Aug. 31. The Doha Accord, signed by President Trump and the Taliban in early 2020 (without participation by the Afghan government), called for the complete abolition of foreign troops. If the US forces had stayed longer than August, Milley said, the Taliban would have resumed fighting, and, to stop the attack, “we would have needed 30,000 troops” and would have suffered “many casualties.”
And yet, as Milley also said Tuesday, he, the chiefs, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and other military officials ordered Biden to guard U.S. troops. The difference is that those forces would not be involved in any “military operation.” Instead, they would “switch” to a “political conference.”
Thus, it is unlikely that the Taliban would have noticed a semantic difference. In their eyes, the U.S. military Therefore, the Taliban would resume fighting, according to Milley, and Biden would have to face a daunting task – withdrawing from the attack or sending 30 more troops.
Some historical-psychological perspectives are worth noting. In the first nine months of Barack Obama’s administration, military officials called for a major escalation of hostilities in Afghanistan – an increase of 40,000 troops – and a shift to a counter-insurgency plan (aka “nation building”). Biden, a former vice president, was alone urging the addition of 10,000 troops, to be used only to train Afghan forces and to fight terrorists on the Afghan-Pakistani border. As Obama recalled in his memoir, Biden urged the new and inexperienced leader not to be “inside” by the leaders. Give them 40,000 now, and in eighteen months, they will need another 40,000 to win the war. As Obama later acknowledged, Biden was right.
And so, according to Milley President Biden’s call to keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, even though he admits that another 30,000 may be needed if the Taliban resumes fighting, it is easy to imagine Biden thinking, “They are trying to beat me, they have done it, as they have always done since the Vietnam War.” it was hot when Biden first joined the Senate in 1973 and developed his views on war and peace ever since.
Milley and General Kenneth McKenzie, commander-in-chief of the Central Command, both agreed upon hearing that US troops were flying blind through most of the 20-year war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history. The authorities of the day tried to create the Afghan army with their image, also making them rely on US technology and support, so that once we got out, the fall was inevitable. Milley also noted that he and other leaders had little regard for Afghan culture and for tarnishing the corruption of the Afghan government and the lack of common law. So, Biden may have been wondering, why he should listen anything these guys had to talk about the Afghan war, which they made a mistake from the very beginning?
Biden made several steps, some of them risky, in speed and sequence of take. Above all, he had to get rid of all the spies, contractors, US citizens, and Afghan aides before they could get all the troops out. But in the big picture, he was telling the truth, and the elders, as their confession was complaining, were wrong.