Contrary to what US President Joe Biden says, the situation in Afghanistan was not an insurmountable war, nor would the United States have had to send a massive force if its troops had not withdrawn.
‘El Mundo’ gathered six statements made by the US leader about the United States’ withdrawal from Afghanistan, which in his analysis do not correspond to the truth. Find out what they are and why.
1. “The Afghans didn’t want to fight”
Of all Joe Biden’s statements, this is, according to the Spanish newspaper, “perhaps the most scandalous”. According to estimates by Brown University in the United States, between 66,000 and 69,000 Afghan soldiers died fighting the Taliban between 2001 and 2021. In contrast, only 2,442 US soldiers died in the war.
The inconsistency of the US president’s claims is even greater when you consider that another 47,245 Afghan civilians were killed, according to Brown University. Adding that number to the number of security forces killed, you get a total of between 113,000 and 116,000 Afghans killed.
It is important to remember that it was not the Americans who defeated the Taliban in 2001, but the Afghans, who fought against the Islamic group. When the Afghan Emirates succumbed in November of that year, there were only four thousand American troops.
2. “It’s an insurmountable war”
In reality, the US and its allies won the war and maintained that victory for three years, from 2002 to 2004, even with a very small military presence of between 5,000 and 10,000 troops in Afghanistan, a country almost as large as Spain. and the UK together.
Furthermore, according to ‘El Mundo’, in 2002, 26 Americans were killed in combat in Afghanistan, and in 2003, 29. Casualties only started to increase from 2005, when – after three years in which the US only became focused on Iraq – the Taliban had managed to reorganize in Pakistan, with the help of that country’s intelligence service.
3. “If the US had not withdrawn, it would have had to send a massive force to Afghanistan”
Biden’s thesis is that the Taliban have not attacked the US since February 2020 because Washington had pledged to withdraw its troops. This is true, but it does not imply that, if the US renounced the withdrawal, it would have to carry out some kind of large-scale intervention in the country, the newspaper notes.
The fact that until early July the Afghan government controlled all the country’s capitals and that the collapse of Afghanistan’s democratic regime took place within three weeks is often overlooked.
No doubt the decision to suspend the withdrawal would have meant sending in more soldiers and almost certainly more dead. But it is no less true that since 2016 the US has never had more than 10,000 soldiers in the country, and that from that year until December 31, 2019, there were only 77 deaths of Americans in Afghanistan.
4. “The US went to Afghanistan to fight Al Qaeda, not the Taliban”
The United States went to Afghanistan, based on the Joint Congressional Resolution to Authorize the Use of Force against those who “authorized, planned, committed, or aided and were complicit” in the 9/11 attacks.
With this text, “it seems questionable” that the Taliban, who protected Osama bin Laden and 20 years later continues to deny that he was involved in the attacks in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania, did not help in the commission of this crime, writes ‘El World’.
The problem is more complex because the Resolution has been used to authorize US military interventions in Iraq, Kenya, Djibouti, Georgia, Somalia, Eritrea, Philippines, and Ethiopia, in cases of groups that, although affiliated with al-Qaeda, are not only not were involved in 9/11, as in many cases they were created after the attacks.
5. Biden was “confronted with the Doha Accords”
Since arriving at the White House, Joe Biden has suspended construction of Donald Trump’s wall on the Mexican border, brought the US back to the Paris Agreement on climate change, reversed the opening of parts of Alaska to oil drilling, among other measures.
However, the newspaper said, for some reason, the US president considers the Doha Accords untouchable, something former US diplomat Walter Andersen describes as a “unilateral surrender”.
The Doha Agreement, it will be recalled, was reached between rival Lebanese factions, on May 21, 2008, in Doha, Qatar. This agreement marked the end of an 18-month political crisis in Lebanon.
6. “Russia and China want the US to stay in Afghanistan”
Biden has not presented any evidence for this thesis, which leads some experts to disbelieve him. Such is the case of the President of the US Foreign Affairs Council, Richard Haas, for whom withdrawal means Washington’s relinquishing any form of influence in Central Asia.
According to the official, Russia will use the threat – real or fictitious – from the Taliban to reinforce its military presence in the former Soviet republics in that region. China, without US soldiers, has an additional avenue to link up with Iran and offer that country trade and investment to circumvent Washington’s sanctions while continuing to develop its nuclear program.
At the same time, Beijing will use Afghanistan to reinforce its connection to Pakistan and the importance of the port of Gwadar it built there. The US has lost even more influence in Pakistan, and India, the power that most openly opposes the Taliban, has yet another reason to develop a foreign and defense policy that depends as little as possible on the US, concludes ‘El Mundo’.