Thursday, May 27, 2021

Biden’s Afghanistan Withdrawal Has Support

President Biden’s foreign policy started with considerable energy, from meeting with Asian allies, a tense dialogue with China, renewed negotiations on Iran, a well-attended climate summit, and a host of reappraisals of polices, including North Korea. But the action with the most immediate impact was deciding to withdraw all Afghanistan combat forces by September 11, 2021. Although this was accompanied by hopes that negotiations with the Taliban and Afghanistan government made progress, these were not conditions.

The U.S. military hand over Camp Antonik in the southern
 Helmand province to Afghan forces | Photo: AFP

The U.S. entered Afghanistan directly after 9/11 with the goal to end it as a safe haven for Al-Qaeda operations. That was accomplished quickly, but Osama bin Laden escaped. The U.S. mostly ignored the conflict during the Iraq War (2003 to 2011). President Obama was pressured to add troops in 2009, which he did reluctantly and with a timeline. President Trump tried to withdraw, but ended up adding personnel again against his preferences in 2017, but the end was in sight and later, an agreement specified the U.S. leave by May 2021.

This war has been over for American public opinion for years. There has been a low level of awareness or support for it after the start of the Iraq War. In an April 2021 poll by The Economist (YouGov), 58 percent of U.S. adults approved withdrawing troops this year. No doubt, reflecting a Democratic president made the decision 74 percent of Democrats approved.

Beyond the terror threat, there is little interest in taking responsibility for democracy. In 2019, Brookings Poll (University of Maryland Critical Issue Poll), only 26 percent of the public agree ensuring liberal democracy should be a goal. The fact a stable government never emerged, the violence continues and hardship will increase is a tragedy, but the American people do not believe it can be their responsibility.

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