facebook linkedin twitter

Former Intelligence Officials on the ‘Deteriorating’ Situation in Afghanistan

July 28, 2021 by Kate Michael

WASHINGTON — Had President Biden sought Gen. David Petraeus’s advice on the Allied troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, he has made no secret of that fact he would have advised against it, even though the general admits the goals from engaging in 2001 have largely been met. 

“The decision didn’t end the war, it merely ended U.S. involvement in the war,” the former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and former CIA director told Ambassador Mark Green, CEO of the non-profit Wilson Center, during a recent discussion of the implications of the withdrawal in Afghanistan. “We should always recognize that these movements continue… and clearly Al Qaeda will come back.”

“We stayed for a reason: to prevent them from reestablishing… sanctuary,” he said. “We didn’t go there to nation-build. We didn’t go there to enable girls to go to school… We stayed for what we could do, prevent Al Qaeda from establishing sanctuary [on Afghan soil].”

And now that troops have been withdrawn and bases have been closed, Petraeus worries not only that terrorists will come back, but also that the U.S. has neglected its pledge to helpers in the region, and that Allied partners may wonder about U.S. sustainability and commitment for long-term conflicts in the future. 

“There is an issue of credibility here,” agreed Great Britain’s Sir John Scarlett, former chief of the British Secret Intelligence Service. 

While Scarlett admitted that there would undoubtedly be a difference in the way the U.S. and the U.K. reacted to the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan, he feels in the U.K. there is a “degree of surprise” that it happened at this particular moment, especially as it is unclear that there was much consultation with major allies before the decision was taken.

He said that the consequences of the withdrawal of forces has led to “feelings of unease” and increasing the perception that “we could be facing something very difficult in the next few weeks,” whether that may be an influx of refugees from the region or even a need to return to stabilize a rapidly deteriorating situation. 

“Fundamentally this is a U.S. led situation, and there’s an inevitability at the end of the day about [eventual withdrawal],” said Scarlett. 

“Specific objectives may have been met, but inevitably you get drawn in [to other challenges]…You can’t draw a line on responsibilities,” he offered, admitting the benefit of hindsight.

Of particular importance, both men insisted, was the key security concern for those Afghan partners left on the ground, whether interpreters or other workers associated with Allied forces, and what Petraeus called the “seeming lack of planning, until recently, for how to discharge our moral obligation” to them.

“A superpower has to keep many plates spinning at one time,” Petraeus said. “Among the plates spinning [should be] a very modest sustained and sustainable effort in Afghanistan.” 

While there was undoubtedly a clear risk that staying in the country beyond the Trump administration’s February 2020 agreement with the Taliban could result in Allied deaths and the renewal of attacks by the Taliban, Scarlett agreed that it “seems reasonable to say that the scale at which we were operating was sustainable.”

Preferring to call it a campaign rather than an endless war, Scarlett said, “I’ve yet to meet anybody who believes any… assurances from the Taliban. The return of terrorist activity is an absolutely key point and obviously a risk” not only to the urban society that has developed in Afghanistan over the last twenty years in all areas of life, but also to the safety of democracies worldwide.

“I fear this is a decision we will come to regret… and soon. I hope I am wrong on that,” said Petraeus. 

“I broadly support much of the foreign policy that is emerging [from the Biden administration],” he said, though, “Afghanistan is one of the few issues which there is a decision we may look back on and wish we had not made.” 

A+
a-

Think Tanks

December 2, 2021
by Reece Nations
Third Way Finds Build Back Better Provisions Would Lower Families’ Costs by Thousands

SAN ANTONIO — Third Way, a D.C.- based think tank, released an analysis of the Build Back Better Act on... Read More

SAN ANTONIO — Third Way, a D.C.- based think tank, released an analysis of the Build Back Better Act on Wednesday that predicts a two-parent family of four would get a tax cut and have lower costs of up to $7,400 from its provisions when fully... Read More

November 29, 2021
by Kate Michael
Critics Say Humanitarian Aid May Prolong Conflict, Hamper Long-Term Development

WASHINGTON — According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at the end of 2020 the most people on... Read More

WASHINGTON — According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, at the end of 2020 the most people on record — about 82.4 million people — were displaced around the world and 243.8 million people required humanitarian assistance. That is one in 33 people worldwide... Read More

November 19, 2021
by Reece Nations
New Dems Push Build Back Better Act as Solution to Inflation

WASHINGTON — Leaders from the New Democrat Coalition and the public policy think tank Third Way participated in a press... Read More

WASHINGTON — Leaders from the New Democrat Coalition and the public policy think tank Third Way participated in a press call hosted by Invest in America Action on Thursday to share their support for the Build Back Better Act’s passage. New Dem Chair Rep. Suzan DelBene,... Read More

November 17, 2021
by Victoria Turner
Officials Say Automation Won’t Replace Humans

WASHINGTON — Automation will not replace people nor take their jobs, according to two government officials who are implementing robotic... Read More

WASHINGTON — Automation will not replace people nor take their jobs, according to two government officials who are implementing robotic process automation programs at federal agencies.  In fact, automation will allow federal employees to accomplish more than that they could have otherwise, said Gabrielle Perret, director... Read More

November 13, 2021
by Victoria Turner
US Cyber Attack Defenses Assessed at Forum

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is at risk of creating a two-silo cybersecurity strategy impeding its ability to adequately address ever-evolving... Read More

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is at risk of creating a two-silo cybersecurity strategy impeding its ability to adequately address ever-evolving cyber threats from bad actors overseas, a former assistant secretary of defense said Friday. Speaking at an American Enterprise Institute event, Paul Stockton, who is now... Read More

September 28, 2021
by Kate Michael
AI Commission Final Report Confirms U.S. Lagging

WASHINGTON — To keep up with technological advancements and provide for enhanced national security, the National Security Commission on Artificial... Read More

WASHINGTON — To keep up with technological advancements and provide for enhanced national security, the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence was created. Its purpose was to make recommendations to the president and Congress that would “advance the development of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and associated... Read More

News From The Well
scroll top