President Biden must take responsibility for his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, as Taliban warlords roll into its capital Kabul, a top US general has warned
General David Petraeus the former Commander of US and International Forces in Afghanistan, is calling the withdrawal a ‘serious mistake’ and says the decision could be ‘catastrophic for the United States and the world’.
‘This is an enormous national security setback and it is on the verge of getting much worse unless we decide to take really significant action,’ Petraeus told host WABC Radio Rita Cosby.
‘The outcome, whether it is the Taliban taking over the country or it’s the kind of civil war that we saw in the wake of the collapse of the post-Soviet government, there are no good outcomes here,’ Petraeus said. ‘In fact there is nothing more than horrible outcomes unless we are willing to acknowledge that this is not going as more optimistic projections laid out and take stock.’
Petraeus spoke after President Biden has reaffirmed his administration’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan as Taliban forces continue to advance on the country.
Biden announced in a statement Saturday that ‘approximately 5,000’ U.S. soldiers will assist with the evacuation process.
The president has set an August 31 deadline for the competition of the withdrawal. The pentagon estimates that 30,000 people will need to be evacuated in this process.
General David Petraeus (pictured), the former Commander of US and International Forces in Afghanistan, is calling the withdrawal a ‘serious mistake’ and says the decision could be ‘catastrophic for the United States and the world’
According to Biden, he and his security team made the decision in an effort to ‘protect our interests and values as we end our military mission in Afghanistan.’
Government leaders are trying to ensure an ‘orderly and safe drawdown of U.S. personnel and other allied personnel’ and an ‘orderly and safe evacuation of Afghans who helped our troops during our mission and those at special risk from the Taliban advance’.
The president says the U.S. government is also actively working to ‘process, transport, and relocate Afghan Special Immigrant Visa applicants and other Afghan allies’.
However, Petraeus is concerned about the ‘psychological collapse’ that is likely to follow when Afghan troops are ‘unable to uphold the level of support they are accustomed to’ when fighting the Taliban.
‘We are now in a situation where the Taliban are trying to encircle Kabul – a city of 5 or 6 million – before hundreds of thousands of refugees starting flooding into it,’ he argued. ‘If we communicate effectively with the Taliban that they need to halt what they are doing, or we will bring the might of the U.S. military down upon them, we can stop this.’
President Joe Biden (pictured) has reaffirmed his administration’s plan to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan as Taliban forces continue to advance on the country. He announced Saturday that ‘approximately 5,000’ U.S. soldiers will assist with the evacuation process
Petraeus is concerned about the ‘psychological collapse’ that is likely to follow when Afghan troops are ‘unable to uphold the level of support they are accustomed to’ in their fight against the Taliban (pictured: Taliban fighters in Jalalabad province on August 15, 2021)
Biden, on the other hand, argued that the U.S. has spent 20 years in Afghanistan. The U.S. deployed the nation’s ‘finest young men and women,’ invested nearly $1trillion in efforts there, trained more than 300,000 Afghan soldiers and police officers, and aided the Afghan military.
He claimed that given the current situation, he had no choice but to evacuate, and claimed former President Donald Trump had forced his hand.
‘When I came to office, I inherited a deal cut by my predecessor… that left the Taliban in the strongest position militarily since 2001 and imposed a May 1, 2021, deadline on US forces,’ Biden said.
‘I faced a choice — follow through on the deal, with a brief extension to get our forces and our allies’ forces out safely, or ramp up our presence and send more American troops to fight once again in another country’s civil conflict.’
He continued: ‘I was the fourth president to preside over an American troop presence in Afghanistan — two Republicans, two Democrats. I would not, and will not, pass this war onto a fifth.’
Meanwhile, Taliban insurgents entered the Afghan capital of Kabul on Sunday, stating they expected to take power within days and promised to moderate their earlier hardline Islamist rule even as foreign diplomats and many locals tried to leave.
American diplomats were evacuated from the U.S. embassy by chopper after the lightning advance.
‘Core’ U.S. team members worked from the airport, while a NATO official said several European Union staff had moved to a safer location in the capital.
The U.S. has spent 20 years in Afghanistan. Biden argued that during that time the government deployed the nation’s ‘finest young men and women,’ invested nearly $1trillion in efforts there, trained more than 300,000 Afghan soldiers and police officers, and aided the Afghan military
The above map depicts the areas of Afghanistan currently controlled by the Taliban compared to what they controlled in April 2021
Earlier on Sunday, the insurgents captured the eastern city of Jalalabad without a fight, giving them control of one of the main highways into landlocked Afghanistan. They also took over the nearby Torkham border post with Pakistan, leaving Kabul airport the only way out of Afghanistan still in government hands.
After U.S.-led forces withdrew the bulk of their remaining troops in the last month, the Taliban campaign accelerated as the Afghan military’s defenses appeared to collapse.
President Joe Biden on Saturday authorized the deployment of 5,000 U.S. troops to help evacuate citizens and ensure an ‘orderly and safe’ drawdown of military personnel. A U.S. defense official said that included 1,000 newly approved troops from the 82nd Airborne Division.
The Taliban said its rapid gains showed it was popularly accepted by the Afghan people.
Biden said his administration had told Taliban officials in talks in Qatar that any action that put U.S. personnel at risk ‘will be met with a swift and strong U.S. military response.’
He has faced rising domestic criticism after sticking to a plan, initiated by his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, to end the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan by Aug. 31.
The president argued that ‘an endless American presence in the middle of another country’s civil conflict was not acceptable to me’.
Biden has been slammed by several Republicans, with House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy hitting out at the ‘complete mismanagement’ of the Afghanistan withdrawal.
Biden has been slammed by several Republicans for his decision to evacuate Afghanistan
McCarthy said: ‘The White House has no discernible plan other than pleading with the Taliban. The bungled withdrawal, reminiscent of his failed withdrawal from Iraq, is an embarrassment to our nation.’
‘President Biden must continue to provide the close air support necessary for the Afghan government to protect themselves from the Taliban and make sure al Qaeda and ISIS do not gain a foothold due to the Biden administration’s disastrous policies.’
Senator Tom Cotton tweeted that the ‘fiasco’ was ‘predictable’ and had ‘humiliated’ the US.
‘The fiasco in Afghanistan wasn’t just predictable, it was predicted. Joe Biden’s ill-planned retreat has now humiliated America and put at risk thousands of Americans left in Kabul,’ he said.
‘At a minimum, President Biden must unleash American air power to destroy every Taliban fighter in the vicinity of Kabul until we can save our fellow Americans. Anything less will further confirm Joe Biden’s impotence to the world.’
Senator Mitt Romney posted that he could not understand why the US had pulled out of the country ‘without an effective strategy to defend our partners.’