Republican members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee warned that American troops may have to return to Afghanistan amid fears that the Taliban will once again turn the country into a haven for international terrorist groups.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken was dragged before Congress this week when lawmakers wanted to know how America’s longest war ended in such humiliation. But even during the investigation, legislators’ thoughts turn to reintervention.
For many, the war – a war so complicated by vague and ever-expanding goals, the delusion of the Pentagon and White House, and ardent belief in America’s ability to build a nation – is not over.
“I think there is a good chance that we are militarily involved in some way again,” said Rep. Steve Chabot (R-OH), who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who interviewed Blinken this week News week.
“You will see a gathering of the worst of the worst there, terrorist groups from all over the world. And now they have our weapons … that probably makes them even more dangerous than it was before September.” 11, 2001. “
As the Taliban settle into government business, Americans wonder what two decades of blood – the vast majority of it Afghani – and trillions of dollars have actually achieved. The Taliban are holding on to Kabul, Al-Qaeda fighters are reportedly back in Afghanistan, and America’s annals of foreign policy mistakes have another chapter.
The Taliban and Al-Qaeda remain hostile to the US Now Afghanistan is also home to the Khorasan Province of the Islamic State (ISIS-KP), a regional subsidiary of the Islamic State that has been delimiting areas of operation in the fight against the Taliban for years. the Afghan government and international armed forces.
“Biden’s top intelligence officials have said that al-Qaeda is likely to rebuild itself in Afghanistan and threaten America in a year or two,” said MP Michael McCaul (R-TX), senior foreign affairs committee member News week in a statement.
“Biden has made Afghanistan a safe haven for global jihad again, so we need to prepare for all possibilities.”
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-NY), also a member of the committee, said News week that the White House must not hesitate to respond to threats to national security. “Any credible, direct threat to the United States or the lives of Americans must be addressed energetically and preventively,” Zeldin said.
“President Biden should draw a red line; however, he cannot repeat the mistakes of the Obama administration by making empty threats, not enforcing red lines, and approaching our adversaries from a position of weakness.”
This terrorist threat triggered the 2001 invasion and the excuse for much of the bloody and rampant “war on terror” in America.
Some Republican senators still believe in it casus belli. “We will return to Afghanistan as we did to Iraq and Syria,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) said earlier this month.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said he believed it was in our best interest to prevent this from happening [Afghanistan] not to become a haven again and give terrorism a victory. “
Senator Ben Sasse (R-NE) said the defeat “will severely damage American intelligence and restore the jihadists to a safe haven in Afghanistan”.
Sens. Sasse, Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Roy Blunt (R-MO) – all from the Senate Intelligence Committee – said in a letter to Biden that the debacle would âinspire jihadists to celebrate the Taliban’s victory over the US and motivate the future â. Terrorists. “
Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, said the defeat brought “a renewed threat of international terrorism caused by al-Qaeda and its allies launching pad for terrorism.”
Republicans and some Democrats will require the Biden administration to take effective action against any perceived threat to the US homeland, its allies, or its regional interests. Chabot is one of those who sound the alarm.
“I assume you will likely see smaller attacks than that [9/11], probably on a number of our allies in different regions of the world, “he told them here on our soil here in the United States.”
Taliban leaders have repeatedly assured the West that al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups are not allowed to have offices in their Islamic emirate. But the first signs point to something else. Al-Qaeda is believed to have close ties with the Taliban, and the country’s new authorities are likely to struggle to suppress the ISIS-CP and other militant groups.
The Taliban’s interim government includes the notorious militant leader Sirajuddin Haqqani – leader of the powerful Haqqani network – as interior minister. Haqqani remains on the US sanctions list and his network is accused of a long list of attacks on international troops and civilians.
“The fact that they have essentially appointed a terrorist minister of the interior is a pretty good omen of what lies ahead,” Chabot said News week. “I wouldn’t believe anything the Taliban are saying at this point in time. I think we should judge them by their actions.”
Zeldin added, “This government is made up of designated terrorists and has hosted terrorist groups in Afghanistan in the past. Unfortunately, there is a good chance this will happen again.”
The Republicans also see a political window in the chaos in Afghanistan. Some have called on Biden, Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin to resign. For them, the Afghanistan debacle is Biden’s child.
“The whole thing was so disorganized and chaotic and just useless,” said Chabot.
Zeldin told News week: “President Biden left Afghanistan and the entire region in a state of heightened uncertainty and chaos, and the threat of terrorism is greater than it has been in years.”
Democrats, some Republicans, and many foreign policy makers are more reluctant to blame Biden directly.
The 20 Years War has many parents, not least former President Donald Trump, who signed a peace agreement with the Taliban, released thousands of its members from custody and announced that the US would go with or without an inter-Afghan power -sharing- Offer.
America’s Afghan house of cards has never been stable, but some observers blame the Trump administration’s negotiations with the Taliban for creating the conditions for the ultimate collapse of the government.
By the time Taliban fighters took over the country, the group had already made secret agreements with local governors, tribal leaders and other regional power brokers to ensure that large centers with little resistance would fall.
American reintervention could take many forms. Covert operations by special forces, ranged attacks with drones or cruise missiles, air strikes with American bombers, financial and military support for local resistance groups in the fight against the Taliban.
“How many troops would be involved or under what special circumstances, of course, cannot be said at the moment,” said Chabot.
“I think they should defend this country and our allies by taking military action if necessary,” he added from the Biden administration. “And of course you have to decide on a case-by-case basis what is necessary.”
Zeldin said the nature of the action “depends entirely on the circumstances – I would not support endangering our troops without a need to have clearly defined goals and measures of success.”
Americans may hesitate to put their sons and daughters in danger again. Thirteen soldiers were killed by ISIS-KP bombs during the evacuation of Kabul, the youngest of 2,406 American soldiers killed in the country since 2001.
Many Americans will want these deaths to be the last.
But the US remains a world power, its sprawling empire requires American institutions to protect and promote their interests. Even the bipartisan desire to end the “eternal wars” will not stop new operations if one or both major parties deem it necessary.
“I think Americans understand and appreciate the fact that there is sometimes a need for a country like the United States around the world to be involved,” Chabot said.
âWe don’t want to be the policeman in the world, but we are certainly a great power and we have a responsibility to protect our own citizens, but also to protect our allies around the world who work with us.
“The United States is a great power … and at times it is necessary to be militarily involved.”