Afghanistan Debate: Realism or Abysmal Failure?

Two Opposing Opinions on Lessons Learned and Foreign Policy Patterns

Rep. Pramila Jayapal, (D-WA), (Mandel Ngan/Pool via REUTERS)
Rep. Pramila Jayapal, (D-WA), (Mandel Ngan/Pool via REUTERS)

Afghanistan Debate: Realism or Abysmal Failure?

This week, American newspapers and televisions showed horrifying scenes of desperate Afghans trying to enter US military planes at Kabul airport and running alongside a plane as it prepared to take off.  As the plane was taking off, at least one person fell off and died and at least one was found dead inside the wheel well of a plane when it landed outside Afghanistan.

In an address to the nation from the White House, President Joe Biden called the scenes “gut-wrenching” and defended his order in April to begin a full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan.  He insisted that “I stand squarely behind my decision. I have learned the hard way that there was never a good time to withdraw U.S. forces.”

Biden’s argument was not new because the presence of US troops in Afghanistan has been a subject of continuous debate since the troops went there 20 years ago.

From the recent debate after the fall of Afghanistan in the Taliban’s hands, here are two opposing opinions as told by two knowledgeable people in their tweets, websites and statements to the media:

On one side, Pramila Jayapal, Democratic Congresswoman from Seattle, born in India, and president of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. The CPC, established about 30 years ago, represents the most left-leaning leading Democrats in the US.

On the other side, James Carafano, Director of Foreign Policy Studies at the right-leaning Heritage Foundation in Washington, had served in the Army for 25 years and was an advisor to former President Donald Trump.


“In 2017, after former President Trump addressed the nation about Afghanistan, I replied to him from the chamber of the House. I said that his address lacked specifics, strategy, and a clear path to end the longest war in our nation’s history.


Instead, he proposed committing even more American lives to this endless conflict – a betrayal of his promise to bring this war to an end.

At that time, I asked the Congress not to abdicate its duties.  The Congress should listen to Americans who want to end the war in Afghanistan. We need a concerted diplomatic effort to sustainably end this war, and bring our heroes home …

Today, the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CDC) commends President Biden for fulfilling his commitment to ending the longest war in American history, making it clear that there is no military solution in Afghanistan

This tragic war has claimed the lives of thousands of American service members and countless Afghans. It has also distracted the United States from urgent domestic and international challenges, and it is past time to bring our troops home …

After nearly two decades of prolonged military occupation, we cannot easily discharge our responsibilities in Afghanistan.

The U.S. must support peace and reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan, and we encourage the Biden administration to quickly put in place a multilateral diplomatic strategy for an inclusive, intra-Afghan process to bring about a sustainable peace …

It is also imperative that the Congress and the administration resettle Afghans who worked with U.S. forces, in addition to their families.

The CPC commends President Biden and Secretary (of Defense, Lloyd) Austin for listening to the American people and standing up to the voices that want to sustain endless war.

The CPC is committed to learning the lessons of Afghanistan by rebalancing our national security posture to emphasize diplomacy, and reasserting congressional war powers where military force is necessary…"


“President Joe Biden’s decision to withdraw abruptly from Afghanistan has plunged that nation into a bloody, ruinous chaos.

The only good that can come from this debacle is that our leaders might wake up and recognize that the Obama-Biden Doctrine of foreign policy is an abysmal failure and must be abandoned once and for all.

Tragically, this lesson comes, yet again, at tremendous cost: wide-scale human misery and heightened threats to U.S. interests.

First, I will reply to those who blamed Donald Trump. The reality is that, during Trump’s tenure and despite the Afghan government’s many imperfections, Afghanistan had made great strides.

The government-controlled most of the country’s territory. There was real economic growth. Women could work. Children could go to school.

And how, in heaven’s name, is Trump to blame for Biden’s disastrous decision to cut and run?

Trump was negotiating with the Taliban, but there was nothing wrong with that. The negotiations were conditions-based, and Trump made clear the Taliban would be held accountable for their actions …

Moreover, Trump’s team made sure that if, in the end, the Taliban proved untrustworthy, the remaining U.S. force had been sized and scoped to present a serious deterrent to the Taliban and be sufficient to protect U.S. interests …

The Taliban’s offensive should surprise no one, given the conditions handed to them. Why would they not take advantage of Biden’s abandonment of Afghanistan? They knew full well the odds that this president would try to stop their orgy of murder, rape, forced marriages, and mayhem were near zero …

Of course, Biden will blame Trump. He will blame the Taliban. He can make all the excuses and spin all the narratives he wants, but a narrative can’t stop a bullet. This is a disaster. The situation did not collapse until he withdrew troops—and it is impossible not to conclude this happened because of what he decided.

Here is the bigger problem. This was not a one-off decision. This is part of a pattern of Obama-Biden foreign policy. And that should surprise no one since the current policies are being managed by much the same people …”


Read more:

Taliban and the Future of Afghanistan: Reassurance Messages or Tactical Steps?

Why Are Afghans So Afraid of Taliban?

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