Afghanistan: one year later

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A lot can happen in the span of a year. This is certainly the case with Afghanistan.

One year after President Joe Biden's incompetent and disastrous pullout from that beleaguered country, failure has cascaded. Taliban terrorists now rule the government in Kabul. U.S. global military credibility remains in free-fall. Our allies no longer trust us. Our adversaries no longer respect us.

Afghanistan is an even worse foreign policy catastrophe than Saigon in April 1975. We need to remember this when we go to the polls on Nov. 8.

The Taliban, founded in 1994 by Mullah Muhammad Omar, was and is a radical Islamist movement with the goal of establishing an Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan. Their strict enforcement of Islamic jurisprudence was and is the rule. Women and girls were not and are not allowed to work or go to school and must be completely covered from head to toe in public. Until October 2001, the Taliban provided safe haven for al-Qaida as they plotted the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Between 2001 and 2021, more than 4,200 U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen, guardsmen, Marines and U.S. civilian contractors were killed and wounded in Afghanistan. Over $2 trillion in U.S. funds were expended. Our objective: creation of an Afghan national government, security and economic system capable of preventing radical Islamist terrorist activity in Afghanistan. Despite the heroic performance of the U.S., coalition and Afghan military personnel, this goal was never achieved. It's not their fault.

In 2019 and early 2020, the Trump administration, committed to ending "America's Longest War," negotiated a cease-fire agreement with the Taliban. It required the U.S., allied forces, the government in Kabul and the Taliban to adhere to measures that would allow the eventual withdrawal of nearly all "foreign" military units on a mutually agreed upon, "conditions-based" timeline.

The 2020 election changed everything. Taliban leaders, guided by their Pakistani allies who were being advised by the  Chinese, decided to accelerate plans to ignore the "Trump Agreement." By Jan. 20, 2021, when Biden became president, Afghanistan's fate was sealed.

But even they could not have forecast how incredibly incompetent and inept the Biden team would prove to be.

The most devastating decision made by our new commander in chief was his order in July 2021 to abandon the allied base at Bagram, less than 30 miles north of Kabul. This strategically crucial facility has multiple runways and, as we reported at the time, extraordinary defenses and surveillance capabilities, and was the location where billions of dollars worth of U.S. and coalition weapons and sensitive war materiel was stored.

Bagram was surrendered in the middle of the night, leaving Hamid Karzai International Airport, a single, vulnerable runway in downtown Kabul, as the only way out of Afghanistan for thousands of American citizens, thousands of our coalition partners and tens of thousands of Afghanis who had worked with us — and to whom we had promised Special Immigrant Visas. This evacuation was so poorly planned and executed that the British Parliament, after seeing Afghanis falling to their deaths from C-17s, held Biden in contempt, calling his actions "catastrophic" and "shameful."

Biden's cut-and-run evacuation gave the Taliban a complete victory. That organization has proven better at fighting than governing.

The Taliban has claimed repeatedly al-Qaida is not in Afghanistan, yet when the CIA finally tracked down and killed Ayman al-Zawahiri, where was he? In a safe house in Kabul. Much can happen in a year, especially when that year begins with unconscionable cowardice and extraordinary incompetence.

Biden's damage has been done and will continue unless we get out to vote this November and again in 2024. This cancer must be excised.

Oliver L. North is a combat-decorated U.S. Marine, founder and CEO of Fidelis Publishing and Fidelis Media. Find out more about him at www.olivernorth.com. David Goetsch is a Marine Corps veteran, member of the Florida Veterans Hall of Fame, professor of business, and Christian counselor. Find out more about him at www.david-goetsch.com. Their new book "Tragic Consequences" is available at www.faithfultext.com.

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