Scorched-Earth for Biden

18 November 2020


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

Lame Duck Trump Drawing Down Troops


With just over 2 months left in his presidency, Donald Trump has decided to withdraw some but not all of the US troops still in Afghanistan and Iraq. Usually, lame duck presidents don't make major moves. This is a major break from tradition, but then, most of the Trump presidency has been such a break. The troop levels in Afghanistan will fall from 5,000 to 2,500 and in Iraq from 3,000 to 2,500 by January 15. That would be five days before the Biden administration takes over. While it does not get all of America's troops out, it is enough movement to undermine the current balance in the region. Once again, Mr. Trump has managed to make a shaky situation worse.

This journal has been clear for the better part of two decades that the US has fought the war in Afghanistan improperly from the first day. It should always have been a counter-terrorist action designed to destroy Al Qaeda and its fellow travelers. It should never have been a major ground war relying on thousands upon thousands of US troops to put someone in power in Kabul. And the Iraq War should never have been fought at all.

Mr. Trump has argued long and loud (but never rationally) that the US needs to stop fighting endless wars. He has, nevertheless, spent four years fighting wars begun in the first term of the second President Bush. Now, as his time is running out, he has opted to bring some of America's troops home but not all of them.

The Washington Post reported, "A U.S. military official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal planning, said officials were in the process of determining what the smaller U.S. mission could include given the current security conditions, which have deteriorated sharply.

"The official said the mission would probably include counterterrorism operations, high-level advising of Afghan security forces, and aerial surveillance and airstrikes, both for counterterrorism efforts and in support of Afghan forces.

"It was not clear how many bases the United States would retain.

"The official said the U.S. mission in Iraq would remain roughly the same."

This typifies the Trump approach to just about everything. Fearless Leader takes it into his head to do something, and he does it. Then, those around him are left trying to figure out how to make whatever remains work. Sometimes, the world gets lucky. For instance, the military talked him out of attacking Iran last week.

What this leaves the Biden administration in January is a weaker position in both Iraq and Afghanistan without the clean break of a complete withdrawal. There have already been responses. In Baghdad, anti-government militias fired rockets into the Green Zone. In Afghanistan, the Taliban have stepped up their activities as well.

The moves by the president make no sense if one views them through the prism of national security or of proper governing. However, if one sees that the president is implementing a scorched-earth program designed to cripple his successor, all things logically follow.

It is going to be a very long couple of months.

© Copyright 2020 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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