Even if Biden pulls troops out of Afghanistan, the usual supporting cast of special forces, contractors, and spooks will remain. From Jeremy Kuzmarov at thegrayzone.com:
Over 18,000 Pentagon contractors remain in Afghanistan, while official troops number 2,500. Joe Biden will withdraw this smaller group of soldiers while leaving behind US Special Forces, mercenaries, and intelligence operatives — privatizing and downscaling the war, but not ending it.
(This article was originally published at CovertAction Magazine.)
On April 14, President Joe Biden announced that he would end the U.S.’s longest war and withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan on the 20th anniversary of the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.
Over 6,000 NATO troops will also be withdrawn by that time.
“War in Afghanistan was never meant to be a multigenerational undertaking,” Biden said during his remarks from the White House Treaty Room, the same location from which President George W. Bush had announced the war was beginning in October 2001. “We were attacked. We went to war with clear goals. We achieved those objectives. Bin Laden is dead and al Qaeda is degraded in Afghanistan and it’s time to end the forever war.”
Biden’s claim that he is ending the forever war is misleading. As The New York Times reported, the United States would remain after the formal departure of U.S. troops with a “shadowy combination of clandestine Special Operations Forces, Pentagon contractors and covert intelligence operatives.” Their mission will be to “find and attack the most dangerous Qaeda or Islamic state threats, current and former American officials said.”
Presidents come and go and America’s imperial foreign policy never changes. From Jacob G. Hornberger at fff.org:
President Trump has announced that he is ordering a partial withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq during the waning days of his administration.
Why only partial? And why now in the waning days of his presidency? After all, when Trump campaigned in 2016, his expressed aim was to bring all the troops home from those two countries. He repeatedly vowed to bring an end to America’s “forever wars.”
There is a simple explanation for Trump’s failure, one that unfortunately so many Americans are loathe to consider: It’s not the president who is in charge of foreign policy. Instead it is the Pentagon and the CIA that are in charge.
Trump had four years to bring home those troops. Clearly he wanted to. The reason he didn’t — the reason he still can’t — is because the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the CIA won’t let him.
Longtime readers of my blog know that I have periodically referenced a book titled National Security and Double Government by Michael J. Glennon, who is a professor of law at Tufts University and served as counsel to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He knows what he is talking about. I highly recommend his book.
We’ve heard about troops that were supposedly coming home that ended up staying right where they were. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:
There is a lot to cheer about when it comes to most of President Trump’s foreign policy statements. He regularly tells us he is ending foreign wars and bringing troops home. But do the people who work for him even listen? It seems as soon as the president makes a strong foreign policy statement, one of his appointees grabs a microphone to explain what the president “really meant.”
Earlier this month, President Trump Tweeted that, “we should have the small remaining number of our BRAVE Men and Women serving in Afghanistan home by Christmas!”
It was a very encouraging statement. But almost immediately his statement was “clarified” – actually refuted – by two Administration officials.
First, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Mark Milley, directly contradicted his boss – who also happens to be his Commander-in-Chief – stating, “It’s a conditions-based plan. We’re continuing to monitor those conditions.”
Then President Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien told us that the president’s statement was merely an expression of his “desire.” “All presidents, all GIs, want the troops home by Christmas,” he said on Friday.
Trump certainly wouldn’t hurt his election chances if he brought a significant number of troops home before November 3. From Philip Giraldi at strategic-culture.org:
Two weeks ago a senior Trump Administration official revealed that the president had decided to withdraw 9,500 American soldiers from Germany and that the administration would also be capping total U.S. military presence in that country at 25,000, which might involve more cuts depending what is included in the numbers. The move was welcomed in some circles and strongly criticized in others, but many observers were also bemused by the announcement, noting that Donald Trump had previously ordered a reduction in force in Afghanistan and a complete withdrawal from Syria, neither of which has actually been achieved. In Syria, troops were only moved from the northern part of the country to the oil producing region in the south to protect the fields from seizure by ISIS, while in Afghanistan the nineteen-year-long training mission and infrastructure reconstruction continue.
In a somewhat related development, the Iraqi parliament has called for the removal of U.S. troops from the country, a demand that has been rejected by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Put it all together and it suggests that any announcement coming from the White House on ending America’s useless wars should be regarded with some skepticism.
The United States has its nearly 35,000 military personnel remaining in Germany as its contribution to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), founded in 1949 to counter Soviet forces in Eastern Europe in what was to become the Warsaw Pact. Both the Organization and Pact were ostensibly defensive alliances and the U.S. active participation was intended to demonstrate American resolve to come to the aid of Western Europe. Currently, 75 years after the end of World War II and thirty years after the fall of communist governments in Eastern Europe, NATO is an anachronism, kept going by the many statesmen and military establishments of the various countries that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Since the demise of the European communist regimes, NATO has found work in bombing Serbia, destroying Libya and in helping in the unending task to train an Afghan army.
Is there a square inch on the planet’s surface where the US government does not proclaim an interest requiring its intervention? From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:
The U.S. is a wreck. Streets are filled with protesters. Neighborhoods are looted and burned. Extremists seized city hall and the surrounding neighborhood in the progressive city of Seattle. American politics is hyper-partisan, divided and hostile, even hateful.
The economic decline remains at depression levels, with major cities only now loosening shutdowns. Many small businesses have closed for good and the survival of even some large firms is in doubt. Washington will be borrowing more than $4 trillion this year and $2 trillion next year – and those numbers likely will increase after another bailout bill expected next month.
But what has official Washington most upset is the president’s plan to bring 9,500 US troops home from Germany by September.
The foreign policy establishment has gone, excuse the phrase, bat-shit crazy. You would think a Satanist cult had taken over the National Cathedral. Or the Prohibitionist Party had won the presidency. Or members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff had declared they were joining a pacifist cult and dissolving the US military.
In a brilliant example of projection, Jim Townsend, one of the former somebodies who fills Washington, declared: “The Administration has just lost its mind.” Actually, it is members of the foreign policy establishment, known as the Blob, who agree on intervention everywhere all the time, with disagreement confined to trivialities, who have collectively lost both their professional composure and mental stability. Veritable hysteria has overwhelmed the gaggle of usually staid and composed lawmakers, think tankers, staffers, security consultants, and pundits.