Biden, Afghanistan, and history

Abdullah bin Bajad al-Otaibi

Published: Updated:

In his new book, A Promised Land, former US President Barack Obama tackles several key domestic and international issues, including his vision of the US role around the world, particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Reading the information, stances, and policies that Obama discussed and explained in his book would surely benefit observers who study global events and their tight connection to the interests of countries and peoples around the world, whether in cases of alliances or enmity, especially given the significant position the US occupies on the global stage as the strongest empire ever known to humankind. Still, as every observer knows, the former President certainly kept some things to himself, either for national security requirements, or for personal reasons.

Obama created a dominant political stream within the Democratic Party, and many of his policies and theories are still applied, especially under the current administration of President Joe Biden. After all, a large part of this administration’s key figures and teams graduated from the Obama administration; not to mention that Biden himself was Vice President for two terms (eight years) under Obama.

Obama spoke at length about “the situation in Afghanistan,” but he cited one particular discussion that dates back to November 2009. He said: “In that meeting, the disagreement in the Cabinet seemed to have dropped significantly. Military commanders admitted that uprooting the Taliban from Afghanistan was unrealistic.” More importantly, he adds that “Joe (Biden) and the National Security Council also admitted that counterterrorism operations cannot succeed against al-Qaeda so long as the Taliban controls the country.”

Nonetheless, the rushed US withdrawal that left the country under the full control of the Taliban was Biden’s making. So, what changed over the course of 12 years on the Afghani or international scene for Biden to make such a sharp turn? In fact, nothing changed; at least not any factor that can tip the balance this heavily or push for the historical and risky withdrawal decision, whose impact will be felt across the US and the entire world.

Global “withdrawal” is one of the key ideas embraced by Obama, his Cabinet, and his stream within the Democratic Party, and Biden’s policies are only a continuation of that vision. Judging by Obama’s lengthy discussion in this regard, Biden seems to be not only convinced of this vision, but also more enthusiastic about it than Obama himself at times. Eventually, he acted in line with his convictions.

Biden’s decision is coming under sharp criticism in the US, and most of this criticism comes from his own party before Republicans, as most Americans are aware of the potential effects of this decision and the dangers it could entail for the US and the world. However, neither Europe nor other US allies have been involved in such sharp criticism, as no one wants political tensions with a US administration that only came to power a few months ago and still has over three years in the White House.

This criticism of the US withdrawal decision will naturally grow, first inside the US, then in other parts of the world. It will be used to judge this administration and its performance in the upcoming elections. Some congressmen from both parties and even some pro-Biden media have already begun to voice this criticism, which will evidently only grow.

To discuss thorny issues only through the lens of political slogans and unconvincing economic analyzes is superficial and reflects a lack of knowledge as concerns Political Islam movements.

The topic of the Taliban and everything they represent inside Afghanistan, as well as their relations with some Islamic and Arab states, is a lengthy subject that needs a lot of analysis and scientific, objective reasoning.

This article was originally published in, and translated from, Emirati news outlet Al-Ittihad.

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