Saturday, February 6, 2021

Biden Under Pressure to Delay U.S. Troop Withdrawal from Afghanistan (VIDEO)

Well, this is the administration that claims to want to "use diplomacy" and "rebuild" alliances in order to "restore America's standing in the world." 

Well, what's to restore? 

The Trump administration had, no doubt, perhaps its greatest successes in foreign policy. At the video below, former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gives a somber, reasoned defense of his leadership, at both the CIA and the State Department, while serving on President Trump's foreign policy team. Pompeo notes that no American diplomats or CIA operatives were killed or bombed under his watch. He also defended the Trump administration's record at maintaining and building alliances, particularly in the Middle East, where the U.S. entered into historic agreements that have literally shifted the balance of power away from enemies such as Iran, in favor of our longtime friends and allies, especially Israel. 

Under the Trump administration, high-value and dangerous enemies intent to take out American troops and other U.S. government officials (and regular American citizens) were liquidated with very carefully-targeted actions that left minimal collateral damage (for example the pinpoint drone strike against Iran's Qassim Suleimani, the Commander of Iranian Forces, who had in the past been the Iran's leading strategist on Iran's attacks on U.S. forces in Iraq and elsewhere, and U.S. intelligence reports indicated that more attacks were in the works under Suleimani's leadership). To say, as Joe Biden does a the video linked above, that "America's back" is bluster and hubris from the new Democrat administration filled with idiotic war-hawks. 

Now while I'm no isolationist, at all, I prefer to fight back when America is threatened and attacked, and screw lame "diplomacy" when U.S. vital interests are at stake. But restraining U.S. power, especially when the use of credible threats remain always in the background, is preferable to the all-out bluster approach under the new administration's foreign policy team. I mean, Pompeo notes that no new wars were hatched under President Trump, that troop withdrawals were taking place, and that in fact, it was the previous Democrat administration of Barack Obama who "lost Crimea" to Russian aggression in that southern zone of Ukrainian sovereignty, and it was the Obama administration that stood aside as Russia's "Little Green Men" launched a clandestine incursion into Ukrainian territory proper, to destabilize the legitimate government there in Kiev. 

So now we're going to KEEP troops in Afghanistan. We've been there for almost 20 years, and saying this as a big supporter of our goals in Afghanistan from the start, enough is enough. If the Taliban don't want peace, and they don't appear to be heading in that direction, abandon those losers, work with real hard diplomacy, and wield the stick of our military forces to send the big message to those backtracking on previous agreements with the U.S. government under the Trump administration that they will bear heavy costs. Maybe a few well-placed Predators drones targeting the renascent al-Qaeda ready to come out from the hillsides and safe-zones in the mountainous regions in Pakistan, will get the message that the U.S. means business, and that's without any boots on the ground. 

Everybody with a cool and calm demeanor, and personal self-honestly knows this. It's the new "globalists" in this new Biden administration who will misread the tea leaves and end up botching the current peace, and Biden himself will go down as a freakin' authoritarian and warmongering nincompoop.

In any case, at LAT, "Will Biden follow through on Trump’s plan to pull remaining troops from Afghanistan?":

WASHINGTON — President Biden is under pressure to delay the withdrawal of the remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan, a decision that has forced a vexing early debate within his national security team about whether ending America’s longest war will plunge the violence-plagued country deeper into chaos.

It’s a decision that Biden inherited from former President Trump, who negotiated a withdrawal timetable with the Taliban but left the final and most difficult step of actually ending the war to his successor.

Though Biden has long favored shrinking the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, current and former national security officials warn the president that even after nearly two decades in Afghanistan, the departure of U.S. forces there could lead to a resurgence of Al Qaeda, the militant group behind the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Biden’s national security team is looking for ways to pressure the Taliban to reduce attacks, break with Al Qaeda and return to peace talks before the final 2,500 troops are scheduled to depart in four months, according to officials familiar with the deliberations.

But senior military and intelligence officials are skeptical about prospects for an Afghanistan peace deal, contending that Taliban militants have shown little willingness to reduce violence or enter into a power-sharing agreement with the Afghan government, the officials said.

“We believe that a U.S. withdrawal will provide the terrorists an opportunity to reconstitute, and that reconstitution will take place within about 18 to 36 months,” said retired Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, a chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under Trump. Dunford offered that assessment Wednesday, during the unveiling of a congressionally mandated study on policy options in Afghanistan.

But Biden faces at least as powerful political pressure not to put off withdrawal indefinitely — from liberals in his party as well as many other Americans who favor bringing troops home — even with the risk that terrorist groups will grow stronger.

“This is unacceptable,” tweeted Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) after hearing the study group recommendation to delay withdrawal. “Those who had any part in getting us into this 20 year war should not be opining about keeping us mired in it.”

At the height of the war a decade ago, U.S. forces numbered more than 100,000. By Trump’s last year in office, however, that figure had dropped from 14,000 to only 2,500 — the lowest number since the invasion in 2001.

At the same time, Taliban attacks on Afghan government troops have surged, along with assassinations of government officials and activists. Peace talks between the government and the Taliban that began last fall have stalled, and many Afghans have grown fearful that a U.S. withdrawal will cause the fighting to worsen.

If the U.S. pulls out on schedule, but without progress on a peace settlement, the Taliban is likely to step up its attacks on Afghan troops and suicide bombings in urban areas, officials say.

But an order by Biden to halt the withdrawal is likely to reignite the U.S. shooting war with the Taliban, extending American involvement in the two-decade-old conflict.

Another option is for Biden to announce a delay in the U.S. withdrawal, in hopes of convincing Taliban officials that their only option is to negotiate with the Afghan government.

“It’s going to be a tough call,” said a senior U.S. official familiar with the discussions who agreed to discuss deliberations under the condition of anonymity. “If we stay after the deadline, the Taliban is likely to take that as a sign that we are not leaving and start attacking us.”

The Afghanistan Study Group, a congressionally mandated panel of former military officers, diplomats and lawmakers charged with recommending a future path, called Wednesday for the Biden administration to extend the May withdrawal deadline “in order to give the peace process sufficient time to produce an acceptable result.”

Jake Sullivan, Biden’s national security advisor, is conducting an administration review of the withdrawal agreement signed by the Trump administration and the Taliban last February and is expected to recommend options to Biden within weeks, officials said.

Biden has kept Zalmay Khalilzad, the Trump official who negotiated the deal and has led efforts to push the peace talks along, in his post, a possible sign that Biden hopes to salvage at least some of the Trump exit strategy.

The Trump-Taliban agreement set the May deadline for U.S. forces to leave, along with more than 10,000 Pentagon contractors who play an important role in assisting Afghan troops fighting the Taliban. In return for a hard deadline on withdrawal, the Taliban agreed to halt attacks on U.S. troops, a commitment it has honored.

But Biden administration officials say the Taliban has not complied with other parts of the deal, including a commitment to seek a cease-fire and to prevent Afghan territory it controls from being used by Al Qaeda members. Taliban officials have accused the U.S. of violating the deal in carrying out airstrikes to help Afghan troops — a charge the U.S. denies.

One likely outcome of Sullivan’s review is a renewed U.S. push for a cease-fire, or at least a temporary reduction in violence, between the Taliban and the Afghan government. That would keep alive the prospect that U.S. troops could leave on schedule or close to it, several U.S. officials said.

The Biden administration “is committed to a political settlement in Afghanistan, one that includes the Afghan government,” Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby told reporters Tuesday. He added that any decision to reduce U.S. troops below 2,500 would be “conditions-based,” a Pentagon term meaning not tied to a fixed timetable.

Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III sounded out the views of Marine Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the top commander in the Middle East, in a telephone call Monday, according to a Defense official.

McKenzie and Army Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, oversaw the steep drawdown of U.S. forces last year, but are said by associates to have deep reservations about a full withdrawal.

There are also about 8,000 troops from other countries under NATO command in Afghanistan, who would also depart if the U.S. left.

During the presidential campaign, Biden promised to “bring the vast majority of our troops home from Afghanistan” and to “focus our mission on Al Qaeda” and Islamic State, extremist groups with small but entrenched followings in Afghanistan.

He has long argued that if Al Qaeda ever reemerges in Afghanistan — where it mounted devastating terrorist attacks against the United States 20 years ago — the militants could be dealt with by small special operations teams and with airstrikes, instead of large numbers of ground troops...