How can you say “America is back” when we’re being defeated by an insurgency armed with no more than [rocket propelled grenades], land mines and AK-47s?”
The United States, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and other US allies in NATO have shuttered their embassies in Afghanistan and evacuated diplomatic personnel following the fall of Kabul to the Taliban last Sunday. Washington hopes to evacuate all troops, diplomats, US nationals, and Afghans who assisted the occupation by 31 August.
President Joe Biden sent a memo to major US allies in June promising to preserve a sufficient security presence in Kabul to keep the Afghan capital safe even after the withdrawal of US forces, Bloomberg has reported, citing a diplomatic memo sent to British officials.
The memo, said to have been addressed to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other Group of Seven leaders, reportedly referred to “critical US enablers” who would be left behind in Kabul to keep the capital secure. London was said to have calculated that these “enablers” would allow the British Embassy in Afghanistan to continue operating as normal after the withdrawal of NATO forces.
But the Taliban’s blitz campaign of attacks against major cities, which began in early August and culminated in Sunday’s takeover of Kabul, appears to have effectively nullified these assurances, with most US allies and Washington itself evacuating diplomatic missions amid fears of chaos and Taliban attacks.
The speed with which the Afghan government collapsed prompted some of America’s allies and client states to express concerns about the future of US-led nation-building operations, and to question whether the US would be ready defend other allies after “abandoning” its Afghan allies.
Armin Laschet, the German politician deemed likely to replace Chancellor Angela Merkel in September’s elections, called the NATO defeat in Afghanistan “the greatest debacle that [the alliance] has suffered since it was founded.” Other officials have slammed the Trump and Biden administrations over the perceived unilateralism they showed on Afghanistan, with European Union foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell complaining this week that it was Brussels “who decided to leave” the country.
Others politicians, including British parliament defence committee chairman Tobias Ellwood, asked whether the Afghanistan disaster was an indication that President Biden’s “America’s back” boast may have been just a hollow platitude, and whether the US was still the global superpower it once was. “People are bewildered that after two decades of this big, high-tech power intervening, they are withdrawing and effectively handing the country back to the people we went in to defeat. This is the irony. How can you say “America is back” when we’re being defeated by an insurgency armed with no more than [rocket propelled grenades], land mines and AK-47s?” Ellwood asked.