The Joe Biden Administration’s decision to withdraw American troops from Afghanistan disappointed Western allies, especially Britain and Germany, who were then forced to follow the U.S.’s lead. One of the reasons for the disappointment was that Washington had gone forward with the pullout without consulting with its partners who maintained combat forces in the country. During the Cold War, the U.S. deployed soldiers to many countries in order to defend Europe against the Soviet Union. Despite that war ending and the collapse of the Soviet Union, these forces are still in place.
It should be noted that the unilateral decision to withdraw U.S. forces from Afghanistan has left Western European countries concerned about their self-defense.
The U.S.’s pullout from Afghanistan has intensified discussions about the EU establishing its own “European Army”.
Europe’s dependence on the United States for its defense is now being questioned more than ever. As a matter of fact, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Relations and Security Policy Josep Borrell stated that when Americans are reluctant to get involved somewhere, Europe must create its own military intervention force. Borrell also stated that the U.S. did not ask for the Europeans’ opinions on the decision to withdraw from Afghanistan and the evacuations that followed.
Trump, who wanted EU countries to increase their financial contributions in NATO for their own defense, had threatened to withdraw troops from Europe. Biden, on the other hand, declared that Trump would put an end to policies that distanced Europe from the United States. “America is back,” Biden said, promising to rebuild relations with European allies. However, the fact that Biden followed Trump’s lead on Afghanistan left Washington’s allies even more confused. Observers say Europeans are not sure how Biden is any different from Trump.
On the other hand, European Union countries readily admit that the Afghanistan fiasco is not only America’s problem, ceding that the Western world has also failed.
As a matter of fact, EU’s chief diplomat, Joseph Borrell, said: “Certainly we Europeans share our part of the responsibility, we cannot consider that this was just an American war.” Borrell pointed that the Western world’s failure in Afghanistan was a game-changer for international relations.
Henry Kissinger, one of the influential advocates of a “global America” pointed to the fact that the Afghanistan fiasco risks damaging the trust between Washington and its allies in an article he penned for the London-based weekly The Economist.
Kissinger noted that the United States’ decision to withdraw without consulting other partners in the military coalition was a major source of concern. In a stark warning to the Biden administration, Kissinger concluded that “American rashness would compound disappointment among allies, encourage adversaries, and sow confusion among observers.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan came as a shock to Neocon circles.
Neocons, along with the “American Military Industrial Complex”, are worried that Biden’s rhetoric about abandoning the “forever wars” might turn into foreign policy doctrine.
“This decision about Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan, it’s about ending an era of major military operations to remake other countries,” Biden had said in his speech, which rattled the “Military-Industrial Complex,” and by extension the hawks around it, which profit from the “forever wars”.
Former National Security Advisor John Bolton, who Trump had sacked from the White House, continues to argue that the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan should be seen as an insurance policy for “America’s security.”
Neocons suspect that Biden will follow in the footsteps of former U.S. President Dwight David Eisenhower. In his farewell address to the Presidency in 1961, Eisenhhower warned future administrations that the war-focused Military-Industrial Complex could play a toxic role that would lead the United States to the brink of disaster.
Subsequent administrations did not heed this warning. The United States, which was involved in the Vietnam War in 1963, had to sign a peace treaty with North Vietnamese forces in 1973. Afghanistan, on the other hand, went down in history as America’s longest war.