Opinion: top US generals puncture Joe Biden’s defense of Afghanistan withdrawal


If the old joke is true – that in Washington the definition of a blunder tells the truth in public – then Milley and the other military leaders who testified on Capitol Hill on Tuesday made many blunders.

In a U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee televised hearing featuring Milley, the Commander of CENTCOM Gen. Kenneth McKenzie, and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, himself a retired four-star general and former commander from CENTCOM, all told a lot of truth. .

Generals Milley and McKenzie said they informed the Biden administration that unless the United States kept 2,500 troops in Afghanistan, the Afghan army would collapse. They also said the ground commander in Afghanistan, General Austin “Scott” Miller, provided the same advice.
This clearly contradicts what President Biden told ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos last month that the US military had not advised him to keep 2,500 troops in Afghanistan.
In response to a question from a senator, General Milley admitted that the abrupt and complete withdrawal of the United States had “damaged” the credibility of the United States in the world.

Milley also said that the Trump and Biden administrations erred in setting specific dates for the US withdrawal rather than making it a condition-based withdrawal.

At the same time, McKenzie and Austin both agreed that the Doha deal with the Taliban, brokered by the Trump administration and signed in February 2020, which set the timetable for a full US withdrawal, is seriously undermining morale. of the Afghan army.

Milley criticized the US intelligence community for missing “the scale and scope, as well as the speed” of the collapse of the Afghan government, testifying: “All the intelligence assessments, we were all wrong. There is no doubt about it. and a failure on the evaluation of the information of 11 days in August, there is no one who called that. ”

In fact, according to CNN reports before the fall of Kabul, the US intelligence community predicted in early August that the Taliban could take Kabul within a month to three months, which at the time seemed to be a fairly accurate estimate of the seriousness of the situation. was becoming.
Milley described the US airlift of more than 120,000 Afghans, US citizens and other Kabul nationals as a “logistical success”, but he called the overall policy in Afghanistan a “strategic failure”.

The fruits of this failure have clearly emerged from the actions of the Taliban in the past month alone.

In a highly symbolic gesture on September 17, the formidable religious police of the Taliban requisitioned the building that once housed the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
The next day, the Taliban’s education ministry only recalled the teenagers from school, but no teenage girls. They stay at home, out of school.
The next day, the mayor of Kabul ruled that women could work for the city, but only in jobs that could not be done by men, such as cleaning the toilets used by women.
Then Mullah Nooruddin Turabi, one of the founders of the Taliban, told The Associated Press that the regime would resume the practice of amputating the hands of thieves.
And earlier this month, the Taliban appointed Siraj Haqqani, whom the UN has identified as part of Al Qaeda’s governing council, as acting interior minister.

No wonder, then, that General McKenzie testified that he was not convinced that al Qaeda and ISIS would not regroup in Afghanistan now that the United States had withdrawn from the country.

The result of Tuesday’s hearing was that even the most senior U.S. generals were unable to defend the debacle that has unfolded in Afghanistan in recent weeks, a disaster owned by President Biden, even though it has was brought about by President Trump’s hapless “peace” with the Taliban which resulted in the Doha deal.

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