All in or All Out? Biden Saw No Middle Ground in Afghanistan.


Mr. Biden assigned Jake Sullivan, his nationwide safety adviser, to run an interagency examination of Afghanistan coverage that resulted in 10 conferences of division deputies, three cabinet-level conferences and 4 conferences within the Scenario Room that included the president.

The Biden crew thought-about different choices, together with conserving a small presence of troops for counterterrorism operations or to assist Afghan safety forces, however reasoned that was simply “magical pondering” and would take extra troops than was sustainable. They mentioned whether or not to renegotiate the Trump settlement to extract extra concessions however the Taliban made clear it will not return to the bargaining desk and regarded the Trump deal binding.

Mr. Biden’s advisers additionally thought-about extending the withdrawal deadline till the winter, after the normal preventing season was over, to make the transition much less harmful for the Afghan authorities. The Afghanistan Research Group, a bipartisan congressionally chartered panel that was led by Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., a retired Joint Chiefs chairman and that included Ms. O’Sullivan, in February advisable extending the Could 1 deadline and searching for higher circumstances earlier than pulling out.

However Mr. Biden was warned by safety specialists that the longer it took to withdraw after a choice was introduced, the extra harmful it will change into, aides stated, so he prolonged it solely till Aug. 31.

Significantly influential on Mr. Biden, aides stated, had been a collection of intelligence assessments he requested about Afghanistan’s neighbors and close to neighbors, which discovered that Russia and China wished the USA to stay slowed down in Afghanistan.

On the finish of the day, then, the officers stated each possibility finally led to one of many two final options — get out altogether, as Mr. Trump had agreed to do, or put together for a protracted and extra harmful capturing battle with many extra troops. Whereas not everybody within the room most well-liked Mr. Biden’s path, officers maintained that everybody was heard.

“Biden mainly confronted the identical challenge that Trump confronted,” stated Vali Nasr, who was a senior adviser to Richard C. Holbrooke, Mr. Obama’s particular consultant on Afghanistan and Pakistan, “and his reply was the identical — we’re not going to return in, we’ve got to get out.”



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