President Joe Biden is expected to formally announce on Wednesday that the U.S. will withdraw all its troops from Afghanistan by September 11, multiple outlets are reporting Tuesday, citing U.S. officials. This prompted a fiery retort from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), who called it “a disaster in the making” and “dumber than dirt”.
The move will bring the almost two-decade war, America’s longest, to an end by the date of the 20th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, which prompted the initial invasion of Afghanistan.
The decision was reported earlier on Tuesday by The Washington Post.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the decision will revise a Trump administration plan for a withdrawal by May 1 of this year. Former President Donald Trump was especially vocal about ending this war and other “forever wars”.
The U.S. is coordinating the withdrawal of its roughly 3,500 troops with NATO allies, which now contribute the bulk of forces to the conflict with its own 6,500 troops, officials said, according to The Journal.
Biden concluded that al Qaeda and associated groups no longer pose a threat to the U.S. homeland and that keeping U.S. forces in Afghanistan is no longer necessary, officials said, according to the newspaper. Officials also said that the withdrawal by September 11 is a hard deadline and not a target based on conditions on the ground, as opposed to other drawdown plans.
Notably, U.S. forces will instead be scattered across South and Central Asia, according to The Journal. This, according to the newspaper, could let the U.S. to maintain a military presence in the surrounding region and allow it to monitor Afghanistan all while ending the conflict.
Sen. Graham was particularly upset by reports of the decision, and said in a Tuesday statement that a “full withdrawal from Afghanistan is so irresponsible, it makes the Biden Administration policies at the border look sound,” also accusing Biden of, “in essence,” canceling “an insurance policy against another 9/11.”
“A residual counterterrorism force would be an insurance policy against the rise of radical Islam in Afghanistan that could pave the way for another attack against our homeland or our allies,” Graham argued.
“I hope our military advised against this withdrawal because I know what is most likely to happen: a reigniting of the Afghan Civil War and reversing all gains for Afghan women and children,” the senator continued. “The void created by this fight benefits ISIS and al Qaeda, who still reside in Afghanistan.”
“I think it is insane to withdraw at this time given the conditions that exist on the ground in Afghanistan,” Graham also said. “I know people are frustrated, but wars don’t end because you’re frustrated. Wars end when the threat is eliminated.”
“President Trump kept a residual force, but he did set a hard withdrawal date, which I thought was very bad, ill-conceived policy.”
“Now we have, on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, the complete withdrawal in spite of all the intelligence assessments, Graham continued. “I find it ironic that, given the sacrifices we’ve made to move Afghanistan forward, prevent another 9/11, and ensure the enduring defeat of al Qaeda and ISIS, that on the 20th anniversary of the attack we’re paving the way for another attack.”
“All of America’s allies were willing to stay if we were willing to stay,” the senator concluded. “To announce a full withdrawal sends a signal of incredible weakness to adversaries like al Qaeda, ISIS, Hezbollah, China, Russia, and Iran.”
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @DouglasPBraff.
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Biden administration marches blindly to disastrous Iran deal
The Biden administration is marching blindly to a nuclear deal with Iran, with some experts believing that a deal is imminent. There are several reasons why such a deal would likely be a disaster.
The Deal will Not Stop Iran from Getting A Bomb
While the White House’s stated goal is preventing Iran from ever acquiring a nuclear weapon, Robert Malley, the US Special Envoy to Iran, acknowledges that the Iran deal will allow Iran to get a nuclear bomb by 2031. Malley’s assessment is echoed by both Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and a letter from over 5,000 senior Israeli military officials to President Biden. So, what is the point of the deal if Iran can still get a bomb?
Statements from Iran itself should make it clear that Iran has malicious intent. An adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei recently admitted that Iran has the “technical capability” to make a nuclear bomb, which is the opposite to Iran’s long-held posture that its nuclear ambitions are for peaceful purposes only. And a video posted in two telegram channels linked to the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps stated that Iran’s ballistic missiles can turn “New York into hellish ruins.” So, why should we believe that this deal will bring peace with Iran?
The Deal Would Further Erode Nuclear Nonproliferation
A nuclear Iran would result in “Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Sunni states” to seek nuclear capabilities to counter Iran, according to the Israeli letter. And this is a valid concern. In 2020 there were reports that China may be building a nuclear processing facility in Saudi Arabia to assist the latter in producing yellowcake.
Saudi Arabia has invested heavily in Pakistan’s nuclear program, and can order nuclear weapons from that country if it so chooses, according to a BBC article from 2013. The article sites Amos Yadlin, who is a former head of IDF Military Intelligence, as stating that in response to Iran becoming a nuclear power, “the Saudis will not wait one month. They already paid for the bomb, they will go to Pakistan and bring what they need to bring.” And South Korea and Russia have just signed a $2.25 billion deal to construct a nuclear power plant for Egypt. The UAE’s first nuclear power plant has been hooked up to its electric grid since 2020. Iran has threatened the UAE multiple times, and funds attacks on the UAE through Iran’s proxies. It seems that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the UAE would seek to develop nuclear weapons if Iran does so.
The Deal Would Unfreeze Funds that Will be Used for Terror
The Iran deal will unfreeze funds that Iran will then use to finance terrorism all over the world, according to the Israeli letter. A letter from House Republicans and Democrats to President Biden estimates the total value of such sanctions relief to be $1 trillion over 10 years, and similarly estimates that these funds will allow Iran to “be an enormous danger to Americans at home and abroad, and to our allies.”
The Deal Creates a Windfall to Russia
And lastly, Russia will get a windfall in this deal, according to the House letter. Under the deal, Russia will be able to enrich Iran’s uranium. Russia will also be the judge of Iran’s compliance with the deal, and the US and Europe would not have such a right. Further, Russia will get at least $10 billion (presumably from Iran) to build Iran’s nuclear infrastructure.
The nuclear deal with Iran as currently imagined will result in a huge foreign policy loss for the United States. The deal will not stop Iran from getting a bomb, would erode nuclear containment in the region, would give significant funds to Iran to in turn finance terror worldwide, and would greatly advantage Russia. But despite these glaring flaws, the Biden administration continues to pursue this disastrous deal.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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