The Taliban has continued making sweeping gains today, taking the key northern provincial capital of Kunduz, and two other provincial capitals in the North. There were also disturbing signs regarding the morale of government forces.
The possibility of a meltdown by Afghan forces similar to that which occurred in 2014 with Iraqi forces, in the face of rapid ISIS advances in western Iraq, cannot be ruled out.
1) Susannah George, “Pace of Taliban advance quickens as militants overrun three major cities in a single day,” Washington Post, April 8, 2021 (3:47 p.m. EDT);
2) Rahim Faiez and Brian Rohan (AP), “Taliban takes key northern Afghan cities as battles rage on,” Washington Post, August 8, 2021 (2:12 p.m EDT);
3) Christina Goldbaum, Najim Rahim, Sharif Hassan and Thomas Gibbons-Neff, “As Afghan Cities Fall to Taliban, Brutal New Chapter Unfolds; “This is now a different kind of war, reminiscent of Syria.” The seizure of five capitals has amplified fears about Afghanistan’s future after the U.S. withdrawal,” New York Times, August 8, 2021 (6:09p.m. ET).
Soldiers and government officials are faced with terrifying personal choices, as it begins to look like the Taliban will take over.
They and their families are extraordinarily exposed to Taliban reprisals, and may have to make excruciating decisions about whether they can better protect themselves and their families by putting aside their weapons and acquiescing in a Taliban takeover, or by sticking with the government forces and fighting for a future under the existing government.
The surrender and withdrawal of the Americans could well have a decisive impact on their calculus.
For the moment, the government forces have some continuing air support from the Americans. That will change by September 11, if not before.
In 2012, President Joe Biden as Vice President was willing to stand by and witness the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of Syrians by the Bashar al-Assad regime, after Barack Obama withdrew U,S. support for rebel forces.
There is every indication that he is prepared to passively watch the disaster of a Taliban takeover and its consequences in Afghanistan.
Former Defense Secretary Bib Gates wrote in his memoir that Joe Biden had been wrong on every major foreign policy issue in the previous four decades. His decision to surrender and withdraw from Afghanistan is consistent with that record.
Biden, and his foreign policy team of weak sycophants, have crafted a monumental catastrophe. It is one which, unlike previous situations when they were all No. 2 men (and women), will have their fingerprints all over it. They will be individually and personally responsible, along with Biden, for what happens after the withdrawal.
The only things which could conceivably move them and Biden to reconsider this colossal blunder, might be if there were an uprising among Congressional ranks, or if they started to consider the possibility that voters’ current indifference to foreign policy might change in the next few years.
It could easily morph into a new (and old) Republican charge that Democrats are weak on national security and defense.
Such a renewed interest in foreign policy could contribute to Democratic defeats in 2022 and 2024.
The Trenchant Observer
The Trenchant Observer has been following Afghanistan closely since 2005, when he worked in Kabul as the Team Leader of group of six lawyers charged with advising the government on modernizing its criminal justice process to better meet international human rights standards.