Home WORLD-NEWS With withdrawal from Afghanistan, US will close ‘forever wars’

With withdrawal from Afghanistan, US will close ‘forever wars’

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WASHINGTON: Joe Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan has been stunned by its speed, but Washington decided four years ago that it had had enough of “eternal wars” and turned its attention to traditional major power competition with China and Russia.
The fight against stateless terror groups such as al-Qaida and the Islamic State has consumed the US security agency and trillions of dollars since the September 11, 2001 attacks.
Biden predecessor Donald Trump came to power in 2017 and vowed to leave Afghanistan, calling the war there a “mess” and a “waste.”
The conflicts there and in Iraq have been characterized by unending troop deployment, sustained levels of violence and inability to definitively defeat the enemy.
By 2020, Trump had overcome resistance and laid the groundwork for withdrawals, leaving just 2,500 troops in each country by the time he stepped down in January. Biden accepted that trajectory and announced on Thursday that U.S. military engagement in Afghanistan would be completed by August 31.
“We are ending America’s longest war,” he said. “The United States cannot afford to remain tied to policies designed to respond to a world as it was twenty years ago.”
The 9/11 attacks blinded the US security agency, forcing the entire government to refocus and launch the ‘War on Terror’.
The US and NATO allies invaded Afghanistan to oust the Taliban government that had protected al-Qaeda.
And then-President George W. Bush took advantage to also invade Iraq to overthrow strongman Saddam Hussein, hoping to recreate the Middle East and eradicate a wider threat.
The initial attacks were largely successful, with al-Qaeda broken up and fleeing Afghanistan, and Saddam deposed and captured in Iraq.
But in both cases, the United States and allies remained on the ground, hoping to rebuild each country, and unable to pull out without risking a return to the pre-9/11 situation.
As of 2013, US security leaders restarted their positions as new Chinese President Xi Jinping began aggressively expanding his country’s military.
To counter and surpass US military strength, China began building armed bases on disputed islets in the South China Sea, added a base in Djibouti and planned other bases in Asia and the Middle East.
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to capture Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and supported an uprising in eastern Ukraine.
Two years later, Moscow began an aggressive campaign to influence the US presidential election.
At the same time, the young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un embarked on an ambitious plan to develop nuclear weapons with missiles that could threaten the United States.
Trump’s 2017 National Security Strategy confirmed the pivot.
“China and Russia are challenging US power, influence and interests and trying to erode US security and prosperity,” it said.
“They are determined to make economies less free and less fair, grow their militaries and control information and data to suppress their societies and expand their influence.”
The reorientation, reminiscent of the Cold War, marked an effort by the Pentagon to expand its navy, build stronger long-range bombers and submarines, and modernize its nuclear weapons.
It also meant countering the Chinese and Russian challenge in new domains, with the Pentagon establishing both the Space Command and the Cyber ​​Command.
The new priorities have taken root under Trump, and Biden reaffirmed them in his own national security policy in March.
“The distribution of power around the world is changing, creating new threats. China in particular has quickly become more assertive,” it said.
“Both Beijing and Moscow have invested heavily in efforts designed to monitor US strengths and prevent us from defending our interests and allies around the world.”
Instead of Afghanistan and Iraq-Syria, Ukraine and Taiwan are the new hotbeds.
Both have recently been given more and more sophisticated US weapons to deter Russia and China respectively.
The Pentagon created a new office focused on China. US naval vessels regularly navigate the waters around Taiwan and in the South China Sea, implicitly challenging China’s territorial claims.
As for Russia, Biden has sought to strengthen ties with NATO allies.
Also last week, US ships took part in exercises in the Black Sea where Russian troops carried out their own maneuvers.
Counterterrorism does not end with the withdrawal from Afghanistan, the Pentagon emphasizes.
But it is becoming more remote – using air and missile strikes from remote bases and ships to act in Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda is still active.
“We are repositioning our resources and adjusting our counter-terror stance to face the threats where they are today,” Biden said.

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