It’s hard to find a silver lining in the darkness of the Afghanistan storm, but here’s one for President Joe Biden: This crisis came early enough in his presidency to take corrective action based on a ruthless assessment of mistakes made and those won Findings.
These measures should focus on three areas: restoring Allied confidence in the US leadership, developing a robust counter-terrorism strategy based on Afghanistan’s changed reality, and bringing together regional actors to shape and restrain the behavior of the Taliban.
None of this will be easy.
All of this is urgently needed, however, as the historical ambitions of the Biden administration and US credibility are at stake at what the president has rightly described as a turning point in a systemic struggle between authoritarianism and democracy.
If the government takes these three measures, President Biden can more effectively return to his “Build Back Better” narrative of suppressing Covid-19 and focusing on stimulus and infrastructure plans that are already boosting jobs and growth in the US.
Biden’s bold presidential ambitions don’t have to die in the Hindu Kush along with the 13 American soldiers and at least 169 others who lost their lives to suicide bombers on Thursday. A U.S. military drone strike on Friday reportedly knocked out two ISIS-K planners behind the attack, and evacuations will continue against Tuesday’s withdrawal deadline.
But it is not too early to see the consequences of 08/15. to plan the deadliest day for the US military since 2011. Presidents Barack Obama and Donald Trump escaped their presidencies without an international crisis of this magnitude. President George W. Bush was not so lucky, and he would be the first to tell President Biden that Afghanistan will likely rule his administration. However, Biden can still go a long way in shaping this story.
Cynical domestic voices in Washington – and there are significant numbers – argue that Americans are quick to forget about Afghanistan. Everything will be fine as soon as the Americans are out of danger, so this argument goes. Others are already struggling to use this crisis to replace the Biden-Harris ticket for 2024 or to position themselves among the Republicans as a more decisive and competent alternative.
Cynicism can win some election races, but it’s never a recipe for greatness. The United States and President Biden himself still have greatness within reach. It will require a new level of focus and execution on international common concerns.
First, President Biden must combine his “America is back” rhetoric about embracing allies with much deeper and more meaningful advice on issues that matter most to US partners.
While counterterrorism and Afghanistan may come to mind first, our allies in both Asia and Europe in particular would like us to discuss with them the Biden government’s approach to China, which is for almost all of us Far greater interest is better advice. In short, they want to be treated like the strategic partners advised them by the Biden government.
“America’s alliances are our greatest asset,” said Biden in his first foreign policy address at the State Department in February. “And leading with diplomacy means standing shoulder to shoulder with our allies and key partners again.”
However, these allies complain that the range does not match the rhetoric. European ambassadors say their governments were not consulted in the run-up to President Biden’s April speech on the withdrawal from Afghanistan, or on its timing and execution, even though their citizens and troops were also at risk.
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger writes in the Economist this week that “how America saw itself being led to withdraw in a decision that was most direct without much warning or consultation with allies or the people of 20 years of sacrifice is of fundamental concern.” were involved, was hit “.
Seven months after the Biden administration took office, US officials are still telling their allies that America’s China policy is “under review”. The Biden administration should involve its closest allies in these discussions, even as they work their way through the US interagency process. It should also urgently address the ongoing trade tensions left over from the Trump administration.
Second, the Biden administration should enter into intensive counter-terrorism consultations with its closest allies. In an interview with CBS, Secretary of State Tony Blinken rightly argued that terrorist cells have metastasized since the 2001 attacks and are now scattered around the world.
Thus, the US’s vastly improved “beyond the horizon” ability to take on terrorists is the new normal and is now being applied to Afghanistan as well. But last but not least, this overlooks how the terrorists were dispersed because Terrorist Inc. lost its safe haven in Afghanistan.
In none of the countries in which terrorists operate today do they enjoy a regime that is potentially as hospitable as the Taliban. Terrorists still view September 11th as a success in beating American infidels, and the Taliban’s conquest of Afghanistan shortly before September 20th.
It was not without reason that jihadists around the world responded to the Taliban’s victory by distributing sweets and setting off fireworks.
Finally, the Biden government must work with regional partners in particular to monitor, shape and discipline the Taliban’s activities.
International actors have an influence on the Taliban because of their current desire for international recognition, their urgent economic problems and their need for qualified partners who can help Afghanistan’s development.
The key here will be whether, once countries like China and Russia have digested their satisfaction with this American setback, will see an advantage in working with the US to ensure the Taliban do not create an extremist state with terrorist tendencies.
Expect tough talks as China in return will demand that the US relax its allegations that Beijing is engaging in a “genocide” of its Uyghur Muslim minority, according to Foreign Minister Blinken.
The concept of a “silver lining” seeking the most positive aspects in the most negative situations was probably first expressed in a 1634 poem by John Milton. The Biden government must now take up this old idea and use its benefit time to correct course with allies and partners across Afghanistan and beyond.
Frederick Kempe is President and Chief Executive Officer of the Atlantic Council.