New Delhi, Aug 21: There has been a lot of criticism about the manner in which the United States withdrew troops from Afghanistan. The violence that is playing out is quite evident of that fact.
To discuss the development in Afghanistan, OneIndia’s Vicky Nanjappa caught up with Michael Kugelman, deputy director of the Asia program at the Woodrow Wilson Center. In this exclusive interview, Kugelman says it would be naive to trust the Taliban. It is carrying out an aggressive PR campaign to argue that the group has changed for the better, Kugelman also says.
How would you describe the handling of Afghanistan by the US? Do you think the pull out was hasty?
The decision to pull out was not made hastily. President Trump’s administration signed an agreement with the Taliban back in February 2020 that obliged the US to withdrawal. Then, nearly a year later, in April 2021, President Biden confirmed that the withdrawal would take place by the end of the summer.
Its the execution of the pull out that was far too hasty. A big part of the problem was that the US couldn’t have anticipated that the Taliban would seize power BEFORE the withdrawal was complete. This led to the chaotic present situation, where the administration has expedited the withdrawal of US diplomats, and diplomats from other countries and of course thousands of Afghans have scrambled to get out as well.
What the administration should have done right after announcing the withdrawal, back in April, was to draw up blueprints for how the final withdrawal-and possible evacuations of civilians-would play out, and under different circumstances: Scenarios where Kabul is still in control of the government, where it is struggling to keep control, and where it is no longer in control. This could have enabled the US to adjust, and draw on a plan finalised in advance, depending on the actual situation.