In an earlier post I said, “Unfortunately for Mr. Biden, the chaos and shock triggered by the evacuations overshadowed the rational of his decision to withdraw“, on August 31, in “Remarks on the End of the War in Afghanistan”, the President said that the Kabul evacuations were a major success. Heurged the Americans to focus on the underlying logic of ending America’s longest war and turn the page.[i] According to a Pew Research Center poll published last week 54% of Americans agree that the withdrawal was the right choice; 69% think America had failed to achieve its goals in Afghanistan.[ii] And according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll Americans overwhelmingly support President Biden’s decision to end the war in Afghanistan, but by a 2-to-1 margin they disapprove his handling of the withdrawal. As the dust of the Kabul operation settles, the percentage of those agreeing with the withdrawal would go up.
Many military and intelligence experts predicted that the withdrawal from Afghanistan would not be an easy operation. With chaotic evacuations and the devastating twin bomb attacks of last Thursday, they proved right.
Through the withdrawal Washington not only empowered the Taliban politically but also left behind millions of dollars’ worth of military equipment, arms, and ammunition leading to questions. Was this only in exchange for a safe evacuation or more? The “Agreement for Bringing Peace to Afghanistan between the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan which is not recognized by the United States as a state and is known as the Taliban and the United States of America” was signed in Doha on February 29, 2020. What was negotiated and agreed on since then? Is there a broader agreement? On July 8, President Biden was asked if he trusted the Taliban. This was his response: “It’s a silly question. Do I trust the Taliban? No…” Has this changed? Are the Taliban no longer an enemy but a partner? If so, has this been discussed with NATO partners? Have they agreed?
On February 19, 2021, in his first address to the global audience at the 2021 Virtual Munich Security Conference President Biden said, “I speak today as President of the United States at the very start of my administration, and I’m sending a clear message to the world: America is back. The transatlantic alliance is back. And we are not looking backward; we are looking forward, together.” Since then, the slogan, “America is back” coined Mr. Biden’s desire to reassert global leadership.
The principal challenge in Afghanistan has always been Afghan groups forging a united front not only to fight tribalism, warlordism and corruption but also to achieve better governance. The country has remained divided on ethnic, sectarian, and regional lines. While the Afghans have demonstrated an exceptional capacity for resistance to foreign interference, they have failed time and again to show the ability to agree on common denominators. Even the formation of consecutive Kabul governments proved a challenge.
On February 19, President Biden addressed the global community for the first time. At 2021 Virtual Munich Security Conference he defined the partnership between Europe and the US as the cornerstone of all that the West hopes to accomplish in the 21st century, just as it did in the 20th century. He expressed his strong belief that democracy will and must prevail.
In June 1961, President John F. Kennedy, on his first overseas trip, visited France. At the time France had not withdrawn from NATO’s integrated military command and the Alliance headquarters was still in Paris.
On June 1, 1961, President Kennedy addressed the North Atlantic Council. The following are from his remarks:
The Summit of Allied leaders will take place on 14 June 2021 at the NATO HQ in Brussels. Following a long-practiced tradition this will be the first NATO Summit after the new US President took office in the wake of four chaotic years with Mr. Trump. But there is no lack of other reasons. Among them are dealing with a more demanding strategic environment marked by the return of global systemic rivalry, the need for coherent Russia and China policies, how to continue adapting NATO for 2030 and beyond, especially by mirroring the recent military adaptation in the political dimension, strengthening the role of NATO as a unique and essential forum of Allied consultations, and tasking a work for an updated Strategic Concept to name just a few.
On April 29, 2018, Mike Pompeo made his first visit to Israel as Secretary of State. This is how Prime Minister Netanyahu started off their joint press conference:
“Secretary Pompeo, it’s wonderful to welcome you.
“This is your first visit to Israel as Secretary of State. I think it’s significant that you chose, as did the President, to include Israel on this important itinerary. I think it’s symbolic of our friendship, which is deep and getting even deeper and stronger.
With the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire taking hold last Friday, the 11-day Gaza conflict is hopefully over.
By and large, this latest episode also conformed to the pattern of Gaza confrontations. There were clashes at Jerusalem’s holy sites; Israel reacted with force to Hamas rockets; Gaza suffered devastation; divided Palestinian leadership called for an end to subjugation and occupation; UN Secretary General and some countries urged de-escalation; Arab governments expressed indignation; and a senior US diplomat traveled to the region to help achieve a cease-fire.