LTG (Ret.) H.R. McMaster / Bradley Bowman
The world is witnessing in Afghanistan a vivid and painful display of what happens when leaders in Washington delude themselves regarding persistent threats, the nature of America’s enemies and the ability to end wars by simply going home.
On April 14, ignoring predictions of dire consequences, President Biden announced that all U.S. forces would depart by Sept. 11—20 years to the day after jihadist terrorists used their safe haven in the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan to launch the deadliest terrorist attack in history.
As U.S. forces departed, the Taliban seized the initiative and launched an offensive on Afghan cities, taking control of the large majority of provinces in 11 days. The takeovers in the north exposed the Taliban’s plan, along with al Qaeda, to isolate and overthrow the elected government in Kabul and subjugate the country under its brutal form of Shariah. The fall of Kandahar on Thursday gave the Taliban a major symbolic victory in the ideological center of the antimodernist and misogynist movement. The fall of Ghazni, Laghman, Logar and Paktia provinces on Kabul’s doorstep enabled the disaster we are now seeing in the capital.
Mr. McMaster, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general, served as White House national security adviser, 2017-18. He is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and chairman of the Center on Military and Political Power at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Mr. Bowman is the center’s senior director. Follow Bradley on Twitter @Brad_L_Bowman. FDD is a Washington, DC-based, nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.