February 08, 2021

Will Biden Stop Trump’s Afghan Retreat?

By Vance Serchuk

On the list of crises confronting the Biden administration, Afghanistan has steep competition. Amid a pandemic, a superpower contest with China, and a scourge of domestic extremism, policy makers could be forgiven for missing the days when Washington’s biggest worry in the world was an insurgency in Central Asia.

Yet as much as the White House might prefer to set aside Afghanistan, the conflict there cannot wait. Thanks to the flawed deal the Trump administration struck with the Taliban a year ago, the Biden team inherits a ticking time bomb it must quickly disarm. Specifically, the Taliban agreement committed Washington to withdraw all its forces from Afghanistan by the end of April—less than 100 days from now. In exchange, the Taliban pledged not to allow terror groups to use Afghan territory to threaten the U.S. or its allies.

The Biden team inherits a ticking time bomb it must quickly disarm.

The U.S. has upheld its end of the bargain to the point that only 2,500 American troops remain in Afghanistan.

The Taliban, on the other hand, has made no sign of splitting with al Qaeda. The U.S. Treasury Department warned last month that al Qaeda influence in Afghanistan is actually increasing under Taliban protection. Taliban officials now speak of hosting al Qaeda members as “refugees”—the same rationale they used to shelter the group before 9/11.

Far from facilitating a wider peace in Afghanistan, the U.S. drawdown has coincided with a surge in violence shocking even by Taliban standards. Insurgents have launched a Khmer Rouge-style campaign of targeted murders against journalists, judges, human-rights activists and civil servants in Kabul. The strategy behind this killing spree is clear: to exterminate, as a class, the modern-minded Afghan professionals who oppose the Taliban’s extremist agenda.

Read the full article from the Wall Street Journal.

  • Podcast
    • May 7, 2021
    U.S And 25 Other Nations To Participate In Huge Joint Training Exercise

    Last year the pandemic derailed large-scale war gaming – this year it's back with a vengeance. The U.S. military is taking part in a massive joint training exercise across Eur...

    By Becca Wasser & Jay Price

  • Reports
    • May 6, 2021
    Making Sense of Cents

    Executive Summary This report contextualizes the Biden administration’s discretionary funding request for the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) in fiscal year (FY) 2022, referr...

    By Stacie Pettyjohn & Becca Wasser

  • Commentary
    • April 30, 2021
    What Would a US-Led Global Technology Alliance Look Like?

    In its early weeks, the Biden administration has wisely signaled that it plans to shift U.S. focus away from the Middle East and toward global competition with China. In addit...

    By Ilan Goldenberg & Martijn Rasser

  • Commentary
    • April 28, 2021
    Sharper: The Next 100 Days

    As the administration marks its 100th day in office, what lies ahead?...

    By Anna Pederson & Chris Estep

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia