The withdraw from Afghanistan always sounded too good to be true for every concerned party.
It appears that those concerns were fully justified.
On February 1st, a bipartisan report was released urging US President Joe Biden and his administration to postpone the deadline for withdrawal from Afghanistan. It should be pushed back from May 2021 to some point in the future.
The report warns that “an early exit would allow terrorist groups to reemerge and undercut a tenuous peace process.”
Washington should not abandon the Afghan peace process, the report said. But conditions for its success will not be met by the deadline U.S.-Taliban agreement.
Withdrawing all U.S. troops then could lead to civil war, destabilizing the region and reviving the al Qaeda threat.
The United States “should not…simply hand a victory to the Taliban,” said the Afghanistan Study Group report, reflecting criticism that the Trump administration conceded too much to the insurgents in a bid to end America’s longest (and most expensive) war.
Congress commissioned the group, whose co-chairs included retired Marine General Joseph Dunford, a former Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman, and Republican former Senator Kelly Ayotte.
State Department spokesman Ned Price said the Biden administration “plans to support” the peace process, and is assessing the Taliban’s commitment to cutting ties to al Qaeda, lowering violence and engaging in peace talks.
The Taliban say al Qaeda fighters are no longer in Afghanistan. The Taliban also have indicated they will resume attacks on foreign forces past May 1st.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a leading Republican defense hawk who had concerns with Trump’s deal with the Taliban, praised the report.
He added in a statement that after initial discussions with the administration, “it looks like they will be very receptive to the recommendations.”
Graham added: “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 US should likely remind itself of the Sunk Cost Fallacy:
“Individuals commit the sunk cost fallacy when they continue a behavior or endeavor as a result of previously invested resources (time, money or effort). This fallacy, which is related to loss aversion and status quo bias, can also be viewed as bias resulting from an ongoing commitment.”
For example, individuals sometimes order too much food (or a country starts a war) and then over-eat (or remain in the war without any hope to win) just to “get their money’s worth”.
And in line with that:
U.S. policy should be revised to help ensure that the peace talks in Doha between the Taliban and a delegation that includes Afghan government officials produce a durable settlement, the report said.
“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,” said the report, urging an “immediate” U.S. diplomatic push to rally regional support for a delay.
A delay also would give Washington time to restructure U.S. civilian aid and offer Kabul incentives “to play a constructive role” in peace efforts and advancing women’s and minority rights.
The February 2020 U.S.-Taliban deal made the U.S. withdrawal contingent on ground conditions and on the Taliban ending the hosting of al Qaeda fighters and halting the group’s “recruiting, training and fund-raising.”
It appears that exactly a year later it’s time to renew the war.
- On February 3, ISIS claimed responsibility for two separate bomb attacks in the city of Kabul
- On February 3, ISIS claimed responsibility for killing a judge in the city of Jalalabad
- On February 4, an Afghan Army airstrike reportedly targeted Taliban position in the Chahar Bolak district
- On February 4, an Afghan Army airstrike targeted a Taliban position southwest of Kandahar city
- On February 3, security forces destroyed an alleged VBIED in Khawajar Khel village
- A study group appointed by US Congress calls on the Biden administration to slow the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan, remove the May 1 exit deadline and instead reduce the number of troops only as security conditions improve in the country
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