Daniel Hoffman: Biden thinks he's kicked Afghanistan's 'endless war' to the curb. He's so wrong
Dan Hoffman: Kabul is a ‘war zone,’ US has withdrawn ‘capability’ to help our citizens
Former CIA station chief and Fox News contributor Dan Hoffman argues ‘horrifically bad contingency planning’ in Afghanistan has put America at risk.
As the Biden administration prepared to send thousands of troops to Afghanistan to assist in what has become a horrifically chaotic evacuation of Americans and allies in the country, President Joe Biden meanwhile vowed not to be the fourth president to turn over an “endless” war to a fifth. Biden claimed to be bound by the Trump administration’s Doha agreement even if the Taliban never adhered to its key components, importantly including severing its ties with al Qaeda.
So the president made the decision to withdraw Americans who helped detect terrorist threats. The Biden administration also turned over Bagram Air Base to the Afghan army, who subsequently surrendered it—along with a stash of U.S. military equipment and fighter aircraft—to the Taliban. The U.S. no longer has anything close to the elite capacity we once enjoyed to detect and preempt threats in Afghanistan.
If there is one thing I learned from serving in overseas war zones, it is that effective counterterrorism operations rely first and foremost on collecting information from human sources. Collecting intelligence on terrorists is highly challenging, sometimes unverified, and even incorrect. Those who use the intelligence—especially our military—to conduct strikes must rely on expert analysts to evaluate the raw intelligence.
We have lost our closest ally in the region, the former government of Afghanistan, and its soldiers who bravely fought and died during the past two decades. They fought against the Taliban and helped augment our counterterrorism mission against al Qaeda and ISIS.
Afghanistan is a breeding ground for extremism. Faced with severe shortages of food, water, and electricity as well as a broken education system and looming demographic explosion, Afghanistan is a failing state, vulnerable to exploitation by terrorists.
The primary mission for the U.S. in Afghanistan continues to be denying ISIS and al Qaeda bases of operations inside ungoverned spaces across the country, which enabled the September 11 attacks on our homeland.
But now the Taliban now owns the battlespace. Its deputy is Sirajuddin Haqqani, whom the U.S. Department of State designated a Global Terrorist in 2008. The Haqqani Network is notorious for allowing al Qaeda to enjoy safe haven on its territory and for conducting violent suicide attacks against coalition forces, innocent civilians, and the former government of Afghanistan.
The Central Intelligence Agency relies on foreign partner allies for intelligence sharing—particularly on counterterrorism. But we have no such collaborative relationships with Taliban-supporters like China, Russia, and Iran—all of whom regard America as their main enemy.
It comes as no surprise that those nations are still operating their embassies in Kabul, while the U.S. and NATO allies are evacuating their diplomats. And, since September 11, Afghanistan has been the friction point in U.S.–Pakistan relations. Having spilled significant blood and treasure in Afghanistan, several U.S. administrations have rightly expressed frustration over Pakistan provides safe haven to proxy militants including the Haqqani Network.
Without American troops and our embassy closed, Afghanistan now represents a greater, clear and present danger to Americans than ever before. As the Taliban takes over, Afghanistan is now on the precipice of once again becoming a terrorist sponsored state.
Afghanistan’s new government will surely seek to trade access to its bountiful natural resources for military equipment and training from Russia and China.
The Intelligence Community will also be on the hook to track the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, which al Qaeda historically demonstrated great interest in obtaining.
The Biden administration might believe it has concluded an “endless war.” Instead it has condemned future generations of Americans to devote more resources to detect growing threats to our nation from Afghanistan.
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