Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend

Biden is making an al-Qaida mastermind’s prophecy come true

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In his speech Wednesday announcing the United States’ retreat from Afghanista­n, President Joe Biden noted that the 9/11 attacks “sparked an American promise that we would ‘never forget.’”

Well, apparently Biden has forgotten the epic disaster he unleashed in 2011 when he was in charge of the withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Iraq.

That catastroph­ic decision created a vacuum that allowed the Islamic State group — which at the time, CIA Director John Brennan explained in 2015, had just “700-or-so adherents left” — to regroup, reconstitu­te itself and build a caliphate the size of Britain.

They unleashed a frenzy of terror — summary executions, women and children buried alive, people crucified, American journalist­s beheaded, and the enslavemen­t and mass rape of Yazidi women.

The rampage of violence was not contained to Iraq and Syria. The Islamic State group spread its murderous tentacles across the globe, carrying out 143 attacks in 29 countries that killed more than 2,000 people and injured many thousands more. And we were forced to send American troops back to deal with the resurgent terrorist threat.

In a November 2019 Wall Street Journal interview, Biden admitted that the decision to withdraw all troops from Iraq “was a mistake” and claimed that as vice president he had tried to keep “a residual force” stationed there. This is revisionis­t nonsense.

Biden was ebullient as he presided over the withdrawal of the last American troops, and even called President Barack Obama from Baghdad to thank him “for giving me the chance to end this goddamn war.”

In that same interview, Biden went on to criticize President Donald Trump for his decision to withdraw the small contingent of U.S. forces in Syria and not leave a residual force there.

“We don’t have to have 100,000 troops

stationed anywhere,” Biden said, but “when we leave a vacuum, like he’s leaving it, it creates significan­t opportunit­ies for difficulty, including what you see right now in the Middle East.”

So, Biden admits that the complete U.S. withdrawal from Iraq was a mistake, and chastised Trump for his withdrawal from Syria. Yet now he is withdrawin­g the “residual force” of U.S. troops in Afghanista­n?

And a residual force is exactly what it is. The U.S. deployment in Afghanista­n is a mere 2,500 troops, fewer than are stationed in Spain (about 3,000), the United Kingdom (9,000), Italy (12,000), South Korea (28,000), Germany (35,000) or Japan (50,000).

The U.S. forces in Afghanista­n are not nation-building. They are not policing the country. They are not even fighting a war. They are training, equipping and enabling Afghan forces who are fighting our enemies for us, while collecting intelligen­ce and carrying out occasional strikes against terrorist targets.

According to Stars and Stripes, this past year, four Americans were killed in action in Afghanista­n, “making for the lowest number of U.S. combat deaths in the country in a calendar year since the war began in October

2001.”

But that small contingent of U.S. forces in Afghanista­n, together with some 7,000 NATO forces, has outsized benefits — preventing the Taliban from overthrowi­ng the pro-American government and turning the country into a terrorist sanctuary again.

The day before Biden announced the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanista­n, his administra­tion announced that it is increasing the number of troops in Germany — reversing Trump’s decision to withdraw some 12,000 forces from that country.

So, Biden is withdrawin­g all U.S. forces from a country where there is an active terrorist threat, but surging forces into a country where our troops have been stationed since 1945 to prevent a Soviet tank invasion across the Fulda Gap? The Soviet Union no longer exists. The Taliban and alQaida do.

Worse yet, nothing terrorists do will reverse our planned exit. U.S. officials say our Afghan withdrawal “is not conditions­based” because Biden “has judged that a conditions-based approach ... is a recipe for staying in Afghanista­n forever.”

In other words, Biden has given the Taliban a green light to launch an assault on Kabul, install a radical Islamist emirate and invite al-Qaida to restore its lost sanctuary.

Perhaps worst of all, Biden has tied the U.S. withdrawal to the 20th anniversar­y of the 9/11 attacks — turning that solemn day of remembranc­e into a victory celebratio­n for the terrorists.

It is a victory the enemy predicted from the start. After he was captured, 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed told his CIA interrogat­or something prophetic: While the United States might enjoy some fleeting battlefiel­d successes, Mohammed declared, in the end “we will win because Americans don’t realize ... we do not need to defeat you militarily; we only need to fight long enough for you to defeat yourself by quitting.”

Two decades after 9/11, Biden is making the mastermind’s prophecy come true.

 ?? THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? In 2011, U.S. soldiers at Forward Operating Base Bostick in Kunar province, Afghanista­n, sat beneath an American flag raised to commemorat­e the 10th anniversar­y of the 9/11 attacks.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS In 2011, U.S. soldiers at Forward Operating Base Bostick in Kunar province, Afghanista­n, sat beneath an American flag raised to commemorat­e the 10th anniversar­y of the 9/11 attacks.
 ?? Marc A. Thiessen ??
Marc A. Thiessen

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