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Out at Last! US Troops Leave Afghanistan After 20 Years

The last military plane left Kabul moments ago. The US is out of Afghanistan.
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Planes as seen on the tarmac

One Day Early, Nearly 20 Years Too Late 

A historic airlift concludes with a final departure of US troops ending a 20-year engagement. 

Biden pledged to be out by August 31. He's one day early, but nearly 20 years too late.

The WSJ reports Last U.S. Troops Leave Afghanistan.

A U.S. military aircraft carried the last American troops out of Afghanistan on Monday, marking the formal end of the longest war in U.S. history but leaving hundreds of Americans and tens of thousands of Afghans to face a future of uncertainty and danger.

Despite assurances to the contrary by Mr. Biden and other top administration officials, Americans and Afghan allies were left behind, though the State Department couldn’t provide precise figures.

The U.S. earlier Monday said it was working to assist hundreds of Americans still there. Advocacy groups said as many as 60,000 Afghan interpreters, drivers and others who assisted the U.S. military, CIA and U.S. diplomatic personnel over the years, along with their families, remain in the country, at risk of retribution from the Taliban.

Campaign Promise Fulfilled 

No one anywhere is pleased at how this evacuation went even though there was strong overall support for getting out.

But at least we did get out.

Biden kept a campaign pledge while Obama and Trump both broke promises. 

Fallout Just Beginning

We are out, but the fallout and political twisting will begin. 

Congressional hearings on what went wrong are undoubtedly coming up. Expect nothing but political finger-pointing instead of what really went wrong.

What Went Wrong 

  1. Other than to get Bin Laden, we should not have been there in the first place 
  2. There was never a defined mission.
  3. The US attempted to nation build and such attempts never work. 
  4. Troop reduction before getting out everyone who needed to get out.

Those are the key ideas but the spotlight will be point 4. On that point, Democrats will blame Trump and Republicans will blame Biden. 

Scarcely anyone will suggest that 4 consecutive administrations made key mistakes.

Afghanistan Surrender Theory: Rumsfeld in 2001 vs Pompeo in 2020

In case you missed it, please see Afghanistan Surrender Theory: Rumsfeld in 2001 vs Pompeo in 2020

Here are a few key snips:

Surrender Theory and Practice

  • We don’t negotiate surrenders,” said Donald Rumsfeld, then the secretary of defense, in 2001.
  • Our secretary of state signed a surrender agreement with the Taliban,” said H.R. McMaster, Trump's former head of National Security. “This collapse goes back to the capitulation agreement of 2020. The Taliban didn’t defeat us. We defeated ourselves.”

Trump made a deal with the Taliban. Here are the key points.

Ten Key Deal Points

  1. The United States, its allies, and the Coalition will take the following measures in the first one hundred thirty-five (135) days [starting February 29, 2020].
  2. They will reduce the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to eight thousand six hundred (8,600) and proportionally bring reduction in the number of its allies and Coalition forces.
  3. The United States, its allies, and the Coalition will withdraw all their forces from five military bases.
  4. Up to five thousand (5,000) prisoners of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan and up to one thousand (1,000) prisoners of the other side will be released by March 10, 2020, the first day of intra-Afghan negotiations.
  5. The United States, its allies, and the Coalition will complete withdrawal of all remaining forces from Afghanistan within the remaining nine and a half (9.5) months [by Mid-December].
  6. The United States, its allies, and the Coalition will withdraw all their forces from remaining bases [by Mid-December].
  7. The United States will initiate an administrative review of current U.S. sanctions and the rewards list against members of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan with the goal of removing these sanctions by August 27, 2020
  8. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will prevent any group or individual in Afghanistan from threatening the security of the United States and its allies, and will prevent them from recruiting, training, and fundraising and will not host them in accordance with the commitments in this agreement.
  9. The Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will not provide visas, passports, travel permits, or other legal documents to those who pose a threat to the security of the United States and its allies to enter Afghanistan.
  10. The United States will seek economic cooperation for reconstruction with the new post settlement Afghan Islamic government as determined by the intra-Afghan dialogue and negotiations, and will not intervene in its internal affairs.

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Art of the Deal

Those bullet points are straight from the State Department Document Bringing Peace to Afghanistan signed in Doha, Qatar on February 29, 2020.

Yes, Art of the Deal fans, that is the exact deal Trump negotiated.

What did Trump get? Vague promises that the Taliban they would not threaten the security of the US or its allies. There were a couple similar vague promises but points 8 and 9 above encompass the idea.

If you believe I left out any key pieces, please read the deal and point them out. I will gladly make corrections if I missed anything significant.

Trump's Ironic Prophecy

  • I am thinking the same thing as I have for the last number of years.
  • What are we doing there? These people hate us.
  • As soon as we leave it's all going to blow up anyway.

If Trump could have gotten us out of Afghanistan without creating a mess, then why did he purposely leave it up to Biden to execute his plan instead of withdrawing by the end of 2020 as he originally promised?

The US has had failed policy in Afghanistan for 20 years. There's plenty of blame for 4 administrations over that pathetic course.

The final result, owned by 4 administrations speaks for itself. But despite making a huge mess of the exit (thanks in large part by Trump), it was Biden who got us out.

Who Won?

Citing the Brown University study, the Brookings Institute concluded "In his long war against America, Osama bin Laden has won a sweeping if posthumous victory."

Laden scored a tremendous strategic victory for the cost of less than two dozen people and $500,000.

Result

  • The US engaged in two wars at the total cost of $6 trillion or more (including long-term health costs) and thousands of lives.
  • The Patriot Act weakened Constitutional protections for individuals and the rise a subtle surveillance state (as Edward Snowden first exposed).
  • The fall of Iraq (Cheney’s and Rumsfeld’s’ crazy fixation) led to ISIS when the Iraq military was disbanded. That helped to destabilize Syria.
  • Destabilization in the Middle East helped create a surge of migration to Europe which has caused major issues for Europe/EU.

Bin Laden never imagined the long-term damage those “four sorties” would cause. Even the current humiliation of the US in Afghanistan is a reverberation.

On August 26, I wrote Pakistan is the Real Winner of the Afghanistan War

Perhaps the Brookings institute has the better proposal, but looking ahead, Pakistan looks like the next big problem. 

Messy Exit But Congratulations Anyway

Finally, at long last we are out. 

Blame whomever you want, for whatever you want, but no more US military will lose their lives on the ground in a place we should not have been once Bin Laden was killed.

Please give thanks to that.

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