Biden Makes GOP Whine With Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal Announcement

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President Joe Biden has set an end date of September 11, 2021, for the full withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, where military personnel have been in combat missions for almost two decades. According to POLITICO’s Lara Seligman, this planned withdrawal is not “conditions based.” Instead, it’s firm. Previously, the Trump administration had set a withdrawal date of May 1, 2021, but the Trump team went somewhat alone among Republicans in making that declaration — which, notably, they set at a point at which they wouldn’t even certainly have a chance to see it through in the first place since it’s well after the 2020 presidential election.

After the revelation of Biden’s plans, GOP leaders complained. According to The New York Times, “Administration officials said that since Mr. Biden was fixing a definite date on an American troop withdrawal, he hoped to avoid an increase in violence — which the Taliban have threatened if the United States kept troops beyond May 1.” The publication also notes that U.S. intelligence personnel have concluded “that a peace deal [is] unlikely in the next year, and that the Taliban [will] make battlefield gains.” Despite this grim assessment of the possibilities for a new deal, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) went after the move.

As McConnell put it:

‘Conflicts do not simply ‘end.’ They are won or lost. America… must be in the business of winning.’

Graham added the following:

‘I know people are frustrated, but wars don’t end because you’re frustrated. Wars end when the threat is eliminated.’

What do McConnell and Graham propose exactly? Does McConnell not count almost two decades of fighting without a previously conclusive end as a “loss”? Does Graham think that sticking to the same strategies that have led to the Afghanistan conflict extending across almost two decades are suddenly going to work if they’re employed for just a little bit longer? Their comments gloss over the fact that, as U.S. intelligence concluded, acting as though a “win” is a legitimately close possibility is foolish.

On the subject of foreign policy, Biden also spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday. According to a recap of the call from the White House, Biden — among other points — “made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to Russia’s actions, such as cyber intrusions and election interference.” While in power, Trump repeatedly downplayed threats from Russian aggression, casting doubt on their clearly documented actions.