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President Bush’s Tears

President Bush’s Tears

Thursday, 29 July, 2021 - 10:30
Mamdouh al-Muhainy
Mamdouh al-Muhainy is the General Manager of Al Arabiya and Al Hadath.

“I’m sad... And it breaks my heart...” This is what a teary-eyed former President George Bush said as he made the claim that the US administration’s decision to withdraw from Afghanistan will have devastating effects on Afghan society, especially the women and girls who will again be living under brutal Taliban rule.

The former US president’s state of grief is justified. While Bush’s critics remember him only for his decision to invade Iraq, it remains the case that the defeat of al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan was a historical achievement, not only for the Afghan people who suffered from the barbarism of the Taliban and other merciless armed groups but also in terms of weakening terror organizations and undermining their discourse on a global scale.

The defeat of the Taliban, the striking of al-Qaeda, the pursuit of its members and the killing of its leaders undoubtedly contributed to the protection of countries from inevitable terrorist acts, and it meant that thousands of innocent people were spared murder or persecution. This is an invaluable human and moral achievement when we see these bloodthirsty terror groups beleaguered and on the run and thousands of women and men going about their lives without being subjected to horrific violations for merely listening to music or shaving their beards.

Had President Bush not taken this giant step, we would be living in a completely different world today, one in which the architects of global terror would not be buried in the ground, lying in the ocean depths or under constant pursuit.

However, we are now entering a new chapter marked by the withdrawal from Afghanistan not only of American forces but all parties, including NATO. The truth is that the Biden administration is not the only one that has called for such a withdrawal, but this time circumstances favored the decision. President Obama had insisted on the withdrawal of American forces and clashed with military leaders in opposition to it, delegating Biden, his vice president at the time, to supervise this measure on several occasions. Likewise, during his four years in the White House, President Trump did not cease to remind people of his promise to bring US soldiers home alive, not in coffins, and he actually withdrew troops from Afghanistan by the end of his term.

There are many reasons behind this new withdrawal decision after 20 years, including the cost of the war. However, the most crucial reason is domestic, which is fulfilling electoral promises for a war-fatigued American public. For politicians who are subject to tremendous political and popular pressure, the most critical consideration today is winning upcoming elections even if higher American national interest is harmed. It is easy to sell to angry masses the idea of bringing home the soldiers, but it is difficult to do the opposite, even if for noble purposes. Ultimately, who in Washington cares that a girl is slaughtered in Mazar-i-Sharif because she wore colorful attire?

While some commentators suggested that the Taliban of 20 years ago is not the Taliban of today, this does not seem accurate at all. The extremist group has not made any intellectual revisions to its ideological discourse. Moreover, its recent actions, such as beheading a translator and disposing of him to the side of the road, and the arrest of Afghan comedian Nazar Mohammad, who was filmed by members of the Taliban being beaten and insulted before he was murdered... Thus, President Bush’s tears are in some manner justified!

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