The turmoil caused by US withdrawal from Afghanistan has struck East Asia, and it is having deep repercussions in the US domestic affairs, so it might be no exaggeration to say that it has also shaken US President Joe Biden’s administration, triggering provocative discussions with regard to US future, its democracy status, and the integrity of its social fabric. Likewise, controversiality seems to be prevailing in several US official statements made on the recent developments in Afghanistan in general, and the fall of Kabul in particular.
President Biden’s stances seem to be often too prompt to several observers, especially after some sides have voiced their demands to implement the 25th amendment of the US Constitution. An opinion poll conducted by US daily The Hill demonstrated that support for Biden has dropped to 49.3 percent, which is the first time his popularity falls below 50 percent since he became president.
Generally speaking, US citizens regret entering the Afghan war, as indicated by an opinion poll carried out by British daily The Independent. Meanwhile, they also feel deep sorrow for the withdrawal scenes that evoked scenes of previous US withdrawals from Vietnam, Lebanon, and recently Iraq. A young nationalist American man might oppose the domestic tendencies of US parties, but he would still feel pain and bitterness at the scenes of US withdrawal and their effect in all TV stations worldwide.
The evidence for this US internal dilemma caused by its withdrawal is that, apart from the advocates of conspiratorial theory who regard the withdrawal as a deep strategic trap set for China and Russia, the deliberation on a 20-year US presence on Afghan territory suffices to generate an internal US sentimental, political, and security-related dilemma which surmounts that caused by the withdrawal from Vietnam.
US citizens are questioning the rationale of US intervention started by former US Republican President George W. Bush in a mood of anger, and ended by the current democratic president, and they are finding no satisfactory answers to their queries. The harvest of this intervention is meager, and the outcome is a recollection of painful and agonizing memories. Meanwhile, the US future itself is open to all contradictory options that do not exclude fear and anxiety regarding US internal security.
Although it might be a bit early to discuss the effect of the withdrawal from Afghanistan on the US voter’s choices in November 2022 and the congressional midterm elections, democrats are already in a state of fear that is near to panic, especially of developments taking a course similar to that which accompanied former US Democratic President Jimmy Carter in the late 1970s, leading to his loss in the elections to the Republican Ronald Reagan in 1981.
It is evident that the Republicans today are widening the gap with their democratic counterparts by questioning the fate of weapons abandoned by the US Army in Afghanistan, as 15 Republican Senators have requested a full inventory of these weapons from Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The US withdrawal left some kind of a small army consisting of 40 planes, some of which are assault Black Hawks, while others are drones, beside some 2,000 armored Humvee vehicles. International TV stations have already shown scenes of armories near Kabul, the cost of which was covered by US taxpayers.
Likewise, other questions are being raised on the US arena, albeit with some timidness, regarding whether US generals or some of them have volunteered to provide President Biden with false information on which he based his withdrawal decision. It might be early to expect an answer to this now. However, the mere fact that such questions are being posed generates a great deal of irritation to the US Administration, whose head is going to invite some world leaders to attend a conference on democracy in two months.
It goes without saying that the repercussions of the US-withdrawal will also correlate somehow with the Iranian position in Vienna’s nuclear talks and its tendency to show more stiffness and noncooperation, especially as the nominated foreign minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, with his strict background of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, is expected to do all he can to obstruct the negotiations, as he perceives Washington to be in a state of turmoil.
Will the withdrawal mark the beginning of a new era in the US history? Time will tell.
This article was originally published in, and translated from, the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.