After a while, Americans might just have to concede that the government wants to have troops stationed abroad forever.
According to a report by Reuters, the U.S. government announced that it would extend the May 1, 2021 deadline for withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan. The Biden administration is making a point to have troop withdrawals contingent on progress in peace talks in addition to the Taliban curtailing violence and putting a lid on Al-Qaeda activity, according to a bipartisan report released on February 3.
The report stated that Washington should not give up on the peace process in Afghanistan. However, it noted the conditions for progress will not be attained by the May 1 deadline, as determined by the 2020 U.S.-Taliban agreement. According to the bipartisan report, an American withdrawal could kick off a civil war, lead to regional instability, and the resurrection of the Al-Qaeda threat.
The Afghanistan Study Group report said that the United States government “should not…simply hand a victory to the Taliban.” In the report, Washington policymakers criticized the Trump administration for conceding too much ground to Afghan insurgents in their attempt to put an end to America’s longest-lasting military conflict.
Congress presided over the group, which features retired Marine General Joseph Dunford and retired Senator Kelly Ayotte.
Dunford revealed to reporters that the report was shared with President Joe Biden’s aides, which included Zalmay Khalilzad, the peace negotiator from the Trump administration that Biden has kept onboard. Khalizad said that he found the report “helpful.”
State Department spokesman Ned Price announced that the Biden administration “plans to support” the peace process. In addition, it’s evaluating the Taliban’s efforts to break ties with al-Qaeda, reduce violence, and carry out peace talks.
Former President Donald Trump announced a withdrawal of 2,500 U.S last month. U.S. national security officials claimed that violence has been on the rise, the Taliban has kept ties with al- Qaeda, and peace talks in Afghanistan have generally stagnated when Trump announced this move.
The Taliban claims that al-Qaeda operatives are no longer active in Afghanistan. On top of that, the Taliban announced that they will relaunch attacks against foreign forces if they stay in the country past the May 1 deadline.
South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, a staunch Republican hawk who was not a big fan of Trump’s peace efforts with the Taliban, congratulated the report’s findings. In a separate statement, Graham said following initial talks with the administration, “it looks like they will be very receptive to the recommendations” coming from the report.
Graham continued, “This year marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11, and I will never forget how this war started. We took our eye off Afghanistan, and that can never happen again.”
The report advocated for U.S. policy to be changed to allow for the peace talks in Doha between the Taliban and a delegation made up of Afghan government officials to generate a long-lasting settlement.
“Achieving the overall objective of a negotiated stable peace that meets U.S. interests would need to begin with securing an extension of the May deadline,” the report stated. It then called on an “immediate” U.S. diplomatic effort to gather regional support for a delay in the peace settlement
The U.S. has occupied Afghanistan since 2001, and in that period, the country has spent over $1 trillion, while 2,000 American troops have perished in the conflict.
It’s high time that we get out of Afghanistan. Let other countries such as China, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia waste their blood and treasure in this graveyard of empires.
If the U.S. wants to get serious about national security, it needs to pay more attention to its southern border, where drug cartels and human traffickers operate with virtual impunity. That’s where troops should actually be stationed at.