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Contrary to plans, Biden’s Afghan withdrawal could hurt Asian change

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US operations in Afghanistan are also likely to continue to attract the attention of senior officials who would otherwise have their eyes set on Beijing.

“As Deputy Secretary for the Indo-Pacific, Ely Ratner has Afghanistan in his portfolio. Where do you think his main goal is for the next three months or more? Said Eric Sayers, defense policy expert at the American Enterprise Institute.

Others warn that terrorist groups are likely to resettle in Afghanistan under the Taliban, suggesting that the United States will have to come back somehow, just as it returned to Iraq to fight the rise of the Islamic State.

David Sedney, who served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, rejected claims by US officials that counterterrorism operations could be carried out from outside the country as a mirage .

“No one who is serious about fighting terrorism believes it,” he said. “The United States is going to pay a terrible price for this at some point in the future. Another September 11.

“Protection of others”

For Campbell, architect of former President Barack Obama’s hesitant pivot to Asia, building American good faith in the Indo-Pacific meant facing unfinished business, and Afghanistan was a lasting distraction.

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Yet the chaotic evacuations from Kabul have conjured up images of the 1975 US withdrawal from Vietnam, a country Vice President Kamala Harris will visit next week to push back China’s land claims in the South China Sea.

The trip, which includes a stopover in Singapore, will make her the latest in a series of senior officials to visit Asia as part of Biden’s efforts to step up his engagement there.

“Our strategic competitors around the world would have liked nothing more than to see us in Afghanistan for another five, 10, 20 years, devoting even more resources to Afghanistan as it remained in the midst of a war. civilian, “said a senior US official. .

But the hasty withdrawal following the failure of a 20-year project in Afghanistan appears to have shaken some of the allies Washington hoped to strengthen with its Indo-Pacific push.

In Taiwan, claimed by China, President Tsai Ing-wen reacted to the chaos in Afghanistan on Wednesday by declaring that the autonomous island had no choice but to strengthen its own defense.

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, right, boards a guided missile frigate in the northern port of Keelung in March. The fall of Kabul shook Washington’s partners in East Asia.Credit:PA

“It is not an option for us to do nothing ourselves and rely solely on the protection of others,” she said.

The Chinese state-controlled media took hold of the Afghan developments, describing US support for the allies as inconsistent.

And while pundits are quick to dismiss most geopolitical comparisons of Afghanistan and Taiwan, it is generally worrying that this latest blow to American prestige undermines Biden’s pledge that American leadership is back. to the isolationist tendencies of the Trump administration.

“As [Osama] Bin Laden said around 2001 that it was about demonstrating who was the stronger horse. The United States seems to produce nags and mules rather than racehorses, ”said Dean Cheng of conservative think tank Heritage Foundation.

“Taiwan and other East Asian states will give it some thought.”

Reuters


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