October 2, 2022

Accountability for the Afghan withdrawal

Whoever to be blamed, it has become clearer than ever that US President Joe Biden is ready to take all the accountability/ blame for the withdrawal.

By Yash Agarwal

Fall of Saigon? National embarrassment? Trump’s mistake? Poor will?

The withdrawal of Afghan army has brought up a lot of questions to the shore.

Is the Afghan episode to be considered a win for US or a win for the Afghans or a win for the terrorist group Taliban?

US President Joe Biden claims this to be a ‘strategic win’ for the Americans reasoning that “The United States did what we went to do in Afghanistan: to get the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and to deliver justice to Osama Bin Laden, and to degrade the terrorist threat to keep Afghanistan from becoming a base from where attacks could be continued against the United States. We achieved those objectives. That’s why we went.”

This seems like a play for the domestic audience rather than the international community. More like a face-saving act for the US government.

But to be sure, has US achieved what it wanted? The same people today are going to form the government whom US once declared terrorists and vowed to eliminate.

No common sense can ever agree for this to be a win for the US government.

But again, did the successive US governments do enough for Afghans through their Afghanistan policies?

It is sad that the US approximately have spent around USD300 million a day for the past 20 years to stabilise Afghanistan for the military and economic development.

But for how long? (As rightly Mr. Biden puts it!)

Even after such money, getting the best weapons, getting the best training, the Afghan military simply didn’t have the will to fight (for whatever reasons). It is their country. You simply can’t expect someone else to fight your wars. US has fought enough. Enough of their sons and daughters have already been killed in the Afghan battlefield.

Praise where it’s due: Biden actually had the courage to follow up on Trump’s Doha agreement with the Taliban. He fulfilled his promise made to the Americans to bring back their children from the theatre of war and end it for one and all.

The detritus of the US withdrawal is going to have massive implications globally, not just for the Afghans. The progress made on social and economic indicators in the last 20 years will take a big step backward. The Afghanistan’s posterity is in a big danger. Millions of children having to live under a repressive regime devoid of any rights at all, and especially for women (read: Sharia Law).

The detritus of the US withdrawal is going to have massive implications globally, not just for the Afghans. The progress made on social and economic indicators in the last 20 years will take a big step backward. The Afghanistan’s posterity is in a big danger. Millions of children having to live under a repressive regime devoid of any rights at all, and especially for women (read: Sharia Law).

Taliban promise to uphold the basic human rights seem a simple play to gain international recognition for its government and then going back to how they wish to rule. They don’t even wish to define what they mean by the ‘Sharia Law’ knowing the contradictions between what they say now and what they will implement later. It might become a big obstacle for them diplomatically later.

And knowing that the Afghanistan government depends on foreign aid (read: the West) to run the country, I do feel the Taliban isn’t going to take such immediate steps which could get them into trouble with the foreign donors.

But in the end, who shall be held accountable for this disastrous withdrawal plan by the US government?

Is it the military advisors, is it the diplomats, is it the bureaucrats, is it the American military leaders on the ground, or is to be simply blamed on the incompetency of the Afghans (as Mr. Biden has been trying to do lately)?

Whoever to be blamed, it has become clearer than ever that US President Joe Biden is ready to take all the accountability/ blame for the withdrawal.

His repetitive statements that “The Buck Stops at Me” show that he is ready to take the complete responsibility in case the situation goes haywire (which it is).

Saying this he is trying to shield the whole administration advisors and especially his deputy Kamla Harris who I believe looks the most obvious Democrat candidate in case the Biden government falls.

Mr. Biden seems to understand the gravity of the situation very well knowing that this has the potential of bringing down his own government.

Now it remains to be seen how US government handles Taliban once it completes its withdrawal.

Least of all, the Afghan posterity is counting on Mr. Biden.

A graduate from Delhi University (DU) Yash Agarwal is a young learner of diplomatic and foreign affairs. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the views of https://strategicaffairsindia.in

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