Joe Biden’s Opportunity in Afghanistan,

Adam Lammon, Executive Editor at the National Interest and Fellow in Middle East Studies at the Center for the National Interest

President Joe Biden is not to blame for all of America’s blunders in Afghanistan, but he could help decide whether we learn from them. We may not discover the conclusions of Congress’ independent Afghanistan War Commission until 2025, but we have an overabundance of damning revelations by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), not to mention accusations of intelligence failures, interagency finger-pointing and distrust, and policy inertia within America’s national security institutions, to sort through. By taking charge of such an autopsy, the Biden administration can deftly redirect criticism from how America’s war in Afghanistan ended to what really matters: how the United States squandered twenty years, $2.31 trillion, and nearly 2,500 American lives on what General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ultimately dubbed a “strategic defeat.”[…]

While pursuing accountability in America, Biden must also course correct his policy toward Afghanistan. For the past year, the Biden administration has been holding $7 billion of the Afghan central bank’s reserves hostage in an attempt to coerce the Taliban into liberalizing. Yet this U.S. effort to change the group’s behavior has failed. Meanwhile, the United Nations’ acting secretary-general’s special representative for Afghanistan assessed that, over the past year, the Afghan economy has contracted by 30-40 percent and unemployment has nearly tripled. 97 percent of Afghans could be living in poverty by the end of the year. The Afghan people—many of whom came to support the Taliban after two decades of war—must not be made to suffer for the Taliban’s crimes.[…]

In contrast to ISIS-K, the Taliban is an entity the United States can tolerate. This is true even after the CIA tracked down and assassinated Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri in a Taliban safehouse in Kabul. After the United States located and killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, Obama administration officials chose to sustain their partnership with Islamabad despite acknowledging that U.S.-Pakistani ties were “complicated.” The same can be true of U.S. relations with the Taliban. The precision strike on Zawahiri was exceptional—not only for the fact that no civilians were harmed but also in that the Al Qaeda leader was so oblivious to the threat to his life. Al Qaeda’s next leader will be less likely to unwind alone on his balcony. Läs artikel