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World Op-ed: America still has a chance to salvage something from the Afghanistan disaster

11:15  13 september  2021
11:15  13 september  2021 Source:   cnbc.com

Latest on Afghanistan: Biden says US 'on a pace' for Aug. 31 pullout; Taliban block Afghans from airport

  Latest on Afghanistan: Biden says US 'on a pace' for Aug. 31 pullout; Taliban block Afghans from airport Biden added the deadline depends on Taliban cooperation, and added that he has asked the Depts. of State and Defense to prepare contingency plans.His remarks from the White House came the same day the Taliban said it would stop Afghans from trying to go to the Kabul airport and told women to stay home to stay for a time to stay safe, fueling worries about how the Taliban will treat women.

  • If we don't try to turn this catastrophe around, it could be a disaster for America's image worldwide, writes former CIA officer A.J. Fuentes Twombly.
a man standing in front of a military uniform: U.S. Army soldiers carry the flag-draped transfer case containing the remains of U.S. Army Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, during a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base, on August 10, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. Kennedy, who was from West Point, N.Y., was killed alongside two other American troops while serving in the U.S. Army in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. © Provided by CNBC U.S. Army soldiers carry the flag-draped transfer case containing the remains of U.S. Army Maj. Thomas E. Kennedy, during a dignified transfer at Dover Air Force Base, on August 10, 2012 in Dover, Delaware. Kennedy, who was from West Point, N.Y., was killed alongside two other American troops while serving in the U.S. Army in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

I served undercover for the CIA during the early years of the U.S. war in Afghanistan. My job was complex and intricate, but I forged a connection to the Afghans I worked with. These were people who risked their lives to fight the organized, systematic oppression conducted by the Taliban.

Fact check: Biden didn't 'gift' weapons to Taliban, hasn't proposed banning pistols

  Fact check: Biden didn't 'gift' weapons to Taliban, hasn't proposed banning pistols A widespread narrative on social media misleads on the value of military equipment left behind in Afghanistan."The current regime that just gifted the Taliban with $80+ billion worth of military grade weapons wants your 9mm pistols," reads an Aug. 17 text post on Facebook. "THINK ABOUT IT.

They did it to further the American idea of democracy and a belief that the U.S. government would help them succeed.

Although the peace that followed was always shaky, I watched small victories with pride. Since the start of the war, the infant mortality rate dropped by 50%, and millions more Afghan girls went to school. Over the last 15 years, Afghan women served in local and national government, and gardens returned to Kabul after years of drought.

I am the daughter of Cuban refugees and am personally familiar with the generational trauma faced by families like mine, who were forced to flee their countries. As I watched the Taliban retake Afghanistan and wipe away 20 years of progress, I felt an acute grief for the people caught in the midst of an international chess game.

Defense secretaries in their own words: US 'invented reasons' to stay in Afghanistan

  Defense secretaries in their own words: US 'invented reasons' to stay in Afghanistan The Taliban blitz exposes the failure of the 20-year Afghanistan war and portends terrorism threats, say former defense secretaries Panetta and Hagel.Afghan security forces, trained and equipped at the cost of $83 billion, wilted before Taliban fighters. With few exceptions, the Taliban rolled through provincial capitals without a fight despite a force of Afghan troops that was supposed to number more than 300,000.  In reality, there were far fewer Afghan forces because of desertions and commanders who reportedly pocketed the pay of ghost soldiers they had kept on rolls. For those who remained and fought, there wasn't enough ammunition and food, to say nothing of pay.

I am a lifelong Democrat. Following my service, I joined the Truman National Security Project, a left-leaning think tank made up of former civil servants and veterans who seek to have a say in international policy decisions based on our ground-level knowledge of conflict. My colleague and Truman Project President Jenny Ben-Yehuda said of the bitter end to America's longest war: "I wanted a withdrawal from Afghanistan, not an abandonment."

Tactically, there is now very little the U.S. can do to re-stabilize the country. With no U.S. Embassy or in-country resources, getting re-established would be an undertaking so costly it would defy almost any practical or political calculation. There are other options, but they pale in comparison to the stability Afghans had before this past weekend.

Morally, the gut-wrenching scenes we have all seen speak for themselves. The deal secured by the Trump administration in February 2020 set up a disastrous end to this war. That administration was so convinced their efforts would pay off politically for then-President Donald Trump in his 2020 reelection bid, that they even briefly planned – then cancelled – a meeting with the Taliban at Camp David in 2019.

As world marks 9/11, Taliban flag raised over seat of power

  As world marks 9/11, Taliban flag raised over seat of power KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Taliban raised their iconic white flag over the Afghan presidential palace Saturday, a spokesman said, as the U.S. and the world marked the 20th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. The banner, emblazoned with a Quranic verse, was hoisted by Mullah Mohammad Hassan Akhund, the prime minister of the Taliban interim government, in a low-key ceremony, said Ahmadullah Muttaqi, multimedia branch chief of the Taliban’s cultural commission. © Provided by Associated Press A man walks down the stairs at dusk in Kabul, Afghanistan, Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021.


Video: Withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan: 'How these last days and hours unfold will be a huge piece of what cements the legacy of this war' (MSNBC)

Ultimately, the "peace" deal was signed between the U.S. government and the Taliban, but did not include signatories from the now-overrun Afghan government. Biden and his administration may own the last few days, but the devastating withdrawal was set in motion by the last administration, which neither understood foreign affairs nor cared about the lives of people who would be caught in the middle.

According to the United Nations, 80% of the refugees forced to flee since May are women and children. I have witnessed firsthand the brutality that our allies on the ground will face. An Afghanistan controlled by the Taliban will slide back 20 years and erode the sacrifice of so many, including Afghans, Americans and our NATO allies.

And if the humanitarian crisis alone is insufficient to motivate action, then we should think about the security and economic costs of abandoning Afghanistan.

What China, Iran, Pakistan, Other Afghanistan Neighbors Have to Say About New Taliban Government

  What China, Iran, Pakistan, Other Afghanistan Neighbors Have to Say About New Taliban Government The most senior working diplomats of China, Iran, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan took part in their first-ever virtual summit to discuss a common approach to Afghanistan's new Islamic Emirate.All six nations are grappling with the fallout.

First, the message we risk sending our allies, once again, is that we will leave them behind. In October of 2019, the Trump administration unceremoniously abandoned the Kurds in Syria. Now we have abandoned the Afghans. This plays into the hands of China and Russia, who will be emboldened by the way the United States left Afghanistan.

Fear of U.S. military intervention has helped deter Chinese aggression against Taiwan, but our Afghan exit calls this long-held belief into question. Russia will be equally emboldened by what they will characterize as a weakened U.S. standing in the world, where our disposable peace came at the cost of $2 trillion spent and thousands of dead. China and Russia will rush to fill any void left in our departure, as will Iran.

The cost of an extended war, Biden argued, was not worth it. However, we cannot quantify the further cost of a Taliban government – in human lives, in dollars spent on defense, in years, in potential terrorist attacks against the United States. It will end up costing us more than an orderly withdrawal ever would have.

The Biden administration should immediately work to ensure safe passage out of Afghanistan for all our allies on the ground. This should include expedited visa processing for all eligible Afghans and should also include asking Afghanistan's neighbors to open their borders to refugees.

The administration should also work with the United Nations and the international community to ensure we set up the proper mechanisms and infrastructure to deliver the necessary humanitarian assistance to the people of Afghanistan.

If we don't try to turn this catastrophe around, it could be a disaster for America's image worldwide. It would certainly haunt the Biden administration. We can still show the world that we are willing and able to do the right thing.

A.J. Fuentes Twombly is a former CIA officer. She also teaches at NYU Stern School of Business and the Kenan-Flagler Business School at UNC Chapel Hill. She is a member of the Truman National Security Project Defense Council and is a member of the Cultural Vistas national board of directors and the Hispanic Heritage Foundation national board of directors.

Joe Biden's Speech on Afghanistan—7 Key Takeaways .
The president said he stood by his decision to remove U.S. troops and that "nation building" was never the goal in Afghanistan.The Taliban seized control of Afghanistan two weeks before the U.S. was scheduled to fully withdraw its troops, who have been there since 2001.

usr: 4
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