Withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan (2020–2021) / Withdrawal was justified

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Position: Withdrawal was justified

This position addresses the topic Withdrawal of United States troops from Afghanistan (2020–2021).

For this position

Quotes-start.png [The evacuation] started off badly but turned out to be masterful. The administration and the military adapted quickly. The airlift is one of the biggest in U.S. military history; about 114,400 people had been evacuated as of Sunday. Quotes-end.png
From There's chaos and risk in Afghanistan exit, but Biden critics are getting it mostly wrong, by David Rothkopf (USA Today, August 29, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png The administration has acknowledged that the Afghan government collapsed far faster than intelligence analysts and most military and diplomatic experts had anticipated. Fair enough. But the truth is that the Afghan government had itself urged against a mass evacuation, fearing that the sight of thousands of Afghans leaving on planes would undermine the already shaky confidence in the government of President Ashraf Ghani and his Western-backed forces. Moreover, as Biden reiterated Thursday, no war ends with a completely smooth, bloodless withdrawal of all troops and allied civilians. Quotes-end.png
From The latest tragedy in Kabul, by Sewell Chan (Los Angeles Times, August 26, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png The right way to withdraw was to keep a sufficient military force in place to keep the Taliban at bay until all of those in these categories who wanted to leave had the chance to do so. The military should have been the last to leave, not the first. Bush made his mistake in the way he stayed in. Biden made his in the way he got out. Quotes-end.png
From George W. Bush made the bigger mistake in Afghanistan, by Robert Robb (The Arizona Republic, August 22, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png Every president from George W. Bush forward failed to get the U.S. out of Afghanistan, the longest war in U.S. history. Biden did get us out, but at great cost to our international reputation and national honor. He can, with some justification, blame others for the bad hand he was dealt, but the disgrace happened on his watch. It is his responsibility. Quotes-end.png
From A disgraceful exit from Afghanistan, by Tulsa World editorial board (Tulsa World, August 20, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png Biden's miscalculations - on Afghan soldiers' ability and will to fight without American support, on timing the withdrawal in the height of fighting season, on the amount of time, planning and military support needed to evacuate diplomats, aid workers and Afghan allies - are catastrophic. America can't undo the damage that's been done. We can only control how much worse it gets. Quotes-end.png
From America lost more than a war in Afghanistan. We lost our conscience., by Houston Chronicle editorial board (Houston Chronicle, August 20, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png If in 20 years, the Afghan military did not learn how to fight, it was not going to learn it in another 20 years. You can train a military, but, as the president said on Monday, you cannot give it the will to fight. Afghan generals and soldiers will be answerable to history. Shame on them: They lost their country to a gang of thugs. Quotes-end.png
From What's happening in Afghanistan? The Afghan military lost their country, not Joe Biden, by Siddique Malik (The Courier-Journal, August 19, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png Put simply, when Mr. Biden began pulling out U.S. advisers to the Afghan army, he also removed U.S. military flight crews and aircraft that flew the missions that had kept the Taliban at bay. He pulled out the maintenance contractors who kept the tiny Afghan Air Force aloft. And he did so at the height of the summer fighting season in Afghanistan. An Afghan army trained to operate with American air support was suddenly without its major weapon. Quotes-end.png
From The Afghanistan disaster, by The Post and Courier editorial board (The Post and Courier, August 17, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png The disaster unfolding today is the product of years of mismanagement and strategic neglect in Afghanistan across four presidencies, Democratic and Republican, by both military and civilian leaders alike. Both Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump pledged to end the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Only Biden had the courage to do so. The situation unfolding in Afghanistan is heartbreaking, but the alternative would have been worse: continuing to throw away American lives in an unwinnable war. Quotes-end.png
From US waited too long to withdraw from Afghanistan, by Paul Scharre (USA Today, August 17, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png That the Afghanistan military showed so little resistance, even with a huge numerical advantage and with arms provided by America, revealed just how unrealistic it was to ever believe the U.S. could build up a new nation strong enough to resist the Taliban. Yes, Afghan soldiers complained about not getting paid, about not having enough food, about running short on ammunition. But something more basic was at work: They simply lacked the sense of national purpose and identity they needed to stave off defeat. Quotes-end.png
From America’s ugly exit from Afghanistan became inevitable years ago, by Chicago Sun-Times editorial board (Chicago Sun-Times, August 16, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png It has long been clear that an American withdrawal, however or whenever conducted, would leave the Taliban poised to seize control of Afghanistan once again. The war needed to end. But the Biden administration could and should have taken more care to protect those who risked everything in pursuit of a different future, however illusory those dreams proved to be. Quotes-end.png
From The Tragedy of Afghanistan, by The New York Times editorial board (The New York Times, August 15, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png Bluntly put: the U.S. has failed abysmally in creating an Afghan state from the bottom up. As John Sopko, the U.S. Special Inspector General in Afghanistan said last month, U.S. officials in multiple administrations have carried "this hubris that we can somehow take a country that was desolate in 2001 and turn it into little Norway.” Quotes-end.png
From Taliban victory? Despite collapse in Kabul, withdrawal was the right course in Afghanistan, by Daniel DePetris (USA Today, August 15, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png We didn’t disagree with Biden’s move to remove the last US ground forces, just as Donald Trump promised as well when he was in office. That’s plainly what most Americans wanted, too. Afghanistan had become an endless war. But any pullout had to have a plan. Not an utterly disastrous cut-and-run, with virtually no provision for the Afghans who worked with us all these years. Quotes-end.png
From This Afghan rout is entirely on Joe Biden, by New York Post editorial board (New York Post, August 12, 2021) (view)

Against this position

Quotes-start.png Since the first U.S. troops landed in Afghanistan, we’ve operated under a simple premise: We can fight radical Islamist terrorists over there, or we can fight them here. Two decades without a mass-casualty terrorist event on our soil proved the strategy was working. At the mission’s conclusion, we had just 2,500 troops in country and were spending about 1% of the Defense budget on operations. We hadn’t lost a soldier in over a year. The lid was on. Quotes-end.png
From Pathetic retreat from Afghanistan shows shrinking Biden isn't up to the task of president, by Scott Jennings (The Courier-Journal, September 2, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png Is there a greater terrorist threat today than Afghanistan? The UN says thousands of "foreign fighters" have poured into Afghanistan in the past months, energized by the Taliban's victories, to join jihadist groups such as al Qaeda. Just when you think that Biden's unforced error of unilaterally and incompetently withdrawing from Afghanistan couldn't get any worse, it does. Quotes-end.png
From Why Biden's views on the Afghan terror attack make no sense, by Peter Bergen (CNN, August 28, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png Biden's hasty and unilateral decision to abandon NATO's Afghanistan mission has done more damage to that alliance than the strains of 45 Cold War years did. Worldwide, nations are recalibrating their security policies, weighing reliance on a wobbly, impulsive United States against accommodation with a China that is on a different trajectory. Biden's immediate task is to reassess his reliance on the intelligence, military and policymaking officials who gave him assessments and assurances that have been shredded by events. Quotes-end.png
From Biden's Afghanistan policy shows the world a wobbly, impulsive U.S., by George F. Will (The Washington Post, August 27, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png It didn’t have to be this way. The U.S. government could have decided to do only what was militarily achievable — destroy the enemy wherever he hid — including in Pakistan — and we could have de-escalated our involvement years ago. After thousands of precious warriors’ lives were lost, we should have at least maintained a very small presence there, like the U.S. military presence at the end of Trump’s term, to keep order, conduct airstrikes, and to back the ANSF. Quotes-end.png
From U.S. departure from Afghanistan was a fiasco — and President Biden owns it, by Rebeccah L. Heinrichs (The Miami Herald, August 19, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png More time for the Afghans didn’t have to entail combat troops, just a core American presence for training, air support and intelligence. More time for us might have retained American intelligence and counterterrorism assets on the ground to protect our allies and our homeland from the reemergence of a terrorist haven. More time might have preserved our sophisticated Bagram air base in the middle of a dangerous region that includes Pakistan and borders the most dangerous country in the Middle East — Iran. Quotes-end.png
From The Afghan people didn’t choose the Taliban. They fought and died alongside us., by Condoleezza Rice (The Washington Post, August 17, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png The U.S. security establishment dithered for 20 years, unwilling to confront Islamabad effectively or to recognize that failure and change its Afghan policy to accommodate its consequences. As it is, Pakistan—a nuclear power with a record of promoting proliferation and deep ties both to China and to the most hate-filled and murderous jihadist groups—has faced down America and achieved its long-term goal of reinstalling a friendly regime to its north. Whether Pakistan will be happy with its radical neighbor in the long term remains to be seen, but for now Pakistani hard-liners are celebrating the greatest single win in their history. Quotes-end.png
From Biden’s Chamberlain Moment in Afghanistan, by Walter Russell Mead (The Wall Street Journal, August 16, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png Mr. Trump’s withdrawal deadline was a mistake, but Mr. Biden could have maneuvered around it. He knows this because his Administration conducted an internal policy review that provided him with options. The Taliban had already violated its pledges under the deal. Mr. Biden could have maintained the modest presence his military and foreign-policy advisers suggested. He could have decided to withdraw but done so based on conditions on the ground while preparing the Afghans with a plan for transition and air support. Quotes-end.png
From Biden’s Afghanistan Surrender, by The Wall Street Journal editorial board (The Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png But is there any reason we should care more about the fate of Afghans than we do of desperate people elsewhere? Yes, because our inability to help everyone, everywhere doesn’t relieve us of the obligation to help someone, somewhere — and because America’s power and reputation in the world are also functions of being a beacon of confidence and hope. Quotes-end.png
From Biden owns the moment. He'll also own the consequences., by Bret Stephens (The New York Times, August 15, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png There’s a robust debate among scholars about how much the Soviet war in Afghanistan led to the demise of the Soviet Union. There’s no debate that Soviet defeat led to the rise of the Taliban and al-Qaida. “The myth of the superpower was destroyed not only in my mind but also in the minds of all Muslims,” Osama bin Laden recalled about the Afghan victory. “Slumber and fatigue vanished.” The idea that our departure, pegged to the 20th anniversary of al-Qaida’s successful attack on America, won’t be seen as a defeat for the United States by the Taliban and other Islamists is preposterous. Quotes-end.png
From Biden citing the wrong reasons for Afghanistan withdrawal, by Jonah Goldberg (The Baltimore Sun, April 19, 2021) (view)

Mixed on this position

Quotes-start.png And whether we were out to rid the world of Osama bin Laden or help Afghanistan secure a stable and secure government, our withdrawal is already having negative effects. First, there’s the way the U.S. left Afghanistan’s Bagram Airfield after nearly 20 years by shutting off the electricity and slipping away without notifying the base’s new Afghan commander, who discovered the Americans’ departure more than two hours after they left, according to the Associated Press. Quotes-end.png
From As U.S. leaves Afghanistan, Taliban on the rise, by Boston Herald editorial board (Boston Herald, July 7, 2021) (view)
Quotes-start.png It was a choice with disastrous consequences. Any incentive for the Taliban to negotiate peace was gone. A security umbrella of U.S. air cover that had staved off battlefield defeats for Afghan troops evaporated. (A small Afghan air force with pilots overworked and targeted for assassination has not been up to the task.) And crucially, the morale disintegrated among frontline Afghan troops already poorly fed, denied pay and deprived of bullets and fuel. Quotes-end.png
From Biden's Afghanistan horror: A well-intentioned miscalculation with disastrous, predictable results, by USA Today editorial board (USA Today, August 16, 2021) (view)