Vittert: U.S. enemies capitalizing on Afghanistan debacle

On Balance with Leland Vittert

TOPSHOT – Afghans gather on a roadside near the military part of the airport in Kabul on August 20, 2021, hoping to flee from the country after the Taliban’s military takeover of Afghanistan. (Photo by Wakil KOHSAR / AFP) (Photo by WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images)

(NewsNation) — A year after our chaotic and embarrassing withdrawal from Afghanistan, it’s clear American adversaries learned more from the Afghanistan failures than we have.

The plan to end a 20-year war collapsed at nearly every phase and our adversaries are empowered by the debacle.

We set up a perimeter around the Kabul Airport to ensure safe passage home, but the Taliban got through. They hunted down Afghan allies who tried to escape.

Our friends the Taliban let through a suicide bomber who killed 13 American service members.

We weren’t set up to process the thousands of people who wanted to leave, raising the risk of a terrorist making it out.

We set an arbitrary deadline for when all troops needed to be out the country. In the end, troops left before some American citizens.

Here at home, members of Congress and the American public still don’t have answers on what caused the mayhem.

Over the course of the withdrawal, we left behind thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Afghan allies. That’s even after President Biden made a promise in an ABC interview to do otherwise.

“If there’s American citizens left, we’re going to stay until we get them all out,” Biden said.

FILE – In this file image from television transmitted by the Arab news channel Al-Jazeera on Jan. 30, 2006, al-Qaida’s then deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri gestures while addressing the camera. Al-Zawahri, the top al-Qaida leader, was killed by the U.S. over the weekend in Afghanistan. President Joe Biden is scheduled to speak about the operation on Monday night, Aug. 1, 2022, from the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Al-Jazeera, File)

That didn’t happen. And it’s one of the reasons we saw videos showing people rushing the Kabul airport hoping to escape Taliban rule.

And it gave the Taliban control of the country, leaving them to welcome Al-Qaeda back to Kabul.

It only took a few months for the head of Al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to take up residence in Kabul. An American missile killed him late last month.

Regardless of your political persuasion or what you think about how the withdrawal went down, one thing is clear … it gave our adversaries a chance to spread the message that “America can’t be trusted.”

Not even half a year later Russia invaded Ukraine. Russian President Vladimir Putin brushed off the threat of sanctions.

To this day, Putin is still testing our resolve. On two separate occasions, over the past two days, the Alaskan NORAD region detected, tracked and identified Russian surveillance aircraft entering and operating within the Alaskan air defense identification zone.

Taliban fighters escort women march in support of the Taliban government outside Kabul University, Afghanistan, on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

China’s military now “completes tasks” around Taiwan. In the Pacific, China is planning regular patrols around Taiwan. And they’re walking back a promise not to invade.

Iran is closer than ever to building a nuclear weapon. They’re promising to use it to wipe out one of our closest allies in Israel, and just tried to kill former Ambassador John Bolton.

Weakness is provocative. That’s true during kindergarten recess and it’s true in foreign affairs. The Biden administration says our support of Ukraine should make our enemies think twice. You be the judge of whether that’s working.

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