Defending his decision to withdraw from Afghanistan on Tuesday, President Biden said the “world is changing” and that the US is now “engaged in a serious competition with China.”
Since coming into office, President Biden has frequently framed China as an ideological competitor, and his Pentagon has identified Beijing as the top “pacing threat” facing the US military.
While the priority appears to be China, the US is also focused on confronting Russia. This reflects the 2018 National Defense Strategy, which outlined the shift away from “counterterrorism” towards so-called “great power competition” with China and Russia. Biden said the US was facing “challenges” from Russia on “multiple fronts.”
“There’s nothing China or Russia would rather have, would want more in this competition than the United States to be bogged down another decade in Afghanistan,” Biden said.
Biden also claimed there were “threats” facing the US in places like Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen. And while the US terror war continues in these countries and special forces operations are expanding across Africa, a future escalation in the region that involves a major troop surge is unlikely.
Every branch of the US military is reconfiguring to better face what the US military calls “peer competitors” like China and Russia. This is reflected in training, military exercises, and the Pentagon budget.
Since Afghanistan is located in Central Asia and shares a small border with China’s Xinjiang province, Washington has to grapple with how a Taliban-led Afghan government fits into its plans for “great power competition.”
Both Russia and China have left their embassies open in Kabul and are signaling that they’re ready to recognize the Taliban. The US moved its Afghanistan-related diplomatic operations to Qatar and is using its control of the global financial system as leverage over the Taliban and has seized billions in Afghan reserves.
It’s possible the US puts Afghanistan under heavy sanctions, but Washington might decide that having relations with the Taliban is worth curbing Chinese influence in the country.
One of China’s only requests of the Taliban is that they sever any ties with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), a Uyghur Muslim group that Beijing accuses of being behind terrorist attacks in Xinjiang. ETIM was previously on the US terror list but was removed in 2020 by the Trump administration, signaling that the US might find a use for the group in its new Cold War with China.
If the US decides to back the ETIM in Afghanistan, it would require more cooperation with the Taliban, which is possible. Besides working together on the Kabul evacuation, the US and the Taliban have previously fought on the same side. Last year, a report from The Washington Post revealed that a unit of the Joint Special Operation Command (JSOC) was giving the Taliban air support in its fight against ISIS in the eastern Kunar province.
But for now, the Taliban seem eager for China to invest in Afghanistan, and it’s unlikely that they would conspire with the US against Beijing so quickly after the withdrawal. And to a country that has been torn apart by war for decades, China’s offers to build infrastructure may be more enticing than covert US operations.
20 thoughts on “Biden Cites ‘Serious Competition With China’ as a Reason to Leave Afghanistan”
After centuries of retreat Asia is on the rise again this time led by China.
What President Biden offers is a very dangerous policy. Haven’t we had enough crusades yet? Has “Liberate Jerusalem” been replaced by “Liberate Beijing”?
So much for any future withdrawals. Just had to free up some assets for bigger and better things.
But he did say something about no more boots on the ground, that we need to compete commercially and digitally??? We don’t want to miss a miracle if it’s in the offing.
I agree the War Party seems invincible, but Biden did win one round, … this is his last hurrah, nothing to loose, …and has the opportunity to be world historical??
“Biden also claimed there were “threats” facing the US in places like Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and Yemen.”
I was hoping for less of that.
Yes, but it sounded perfunctory. Whereas the paradigm shift from “Global War on Terror” to “competing with China & Russia” was … paroxysmal. It puts Israel and the Neocon faction of the War Party on the back burner … if he’s able to pull it off.
As always tho, Israel has its insurance policies -Jeffrey Epstein’s videos, the truth about 9/11, US mass media … and it can always pull another Pan Am Flight 103 -….
I knew what one of those “P’ words were but not the other. I know it now and can’t wait to use it in a sentence. 🙂
Biden did signal the need to stop remaking foreign countries, though.
There is one makeover war in particular that probably concerns him most; the U.S. social civil war.
… and the way is now totally clear for China start their own quagmire in Afghanistan that will completely outdo the U.S. and Soviet Union combined.
(The above is sarcasm)
Of course, China could end up economically quagmired there.
(Not so sarcastic)
Afghanistan has a plethora of natural resources. I doubt that a partnership with China would fail to benefit the Chinese.
Good on China.
Perhaps; much depends on the health of China’s domestic market and the need for resources that economy can drive.
China’s export dependent economy, is subject to sanctions and access to the U.S. and European markets.
One potential flaw of the Belt and Road initiative, is the assumption Europe and North America will remain open to trade with China, without Western forces first owning China from within.
COVID-1984, demonstrates both how expendable Western middle classes are to globalist elites seeking global power and control, and the extent to which Europe-First oligarchs from Europe and the U.S. may have penetrated China and the CCP.
The Chinese (and Russians) are a damned side smarter than those dumb Yanks.
Only the Europe-First globalist imperial factions.
The smart Americans have been sidelined, purged from the Pentagon and State Department for inconvenient thoughts like genuine American interests.
In Reagan’s day, a guy like Pat Buchanan could find a top insiders place in government.
In Trump’s day, crickets.
Kamala Harris is waiting in the wings to undertake that all important trip to Afghanistan to make an ally out of the latter against China.
Taliban would never cooperate with US since their needs can be fulfilled by China & Russia…! The frozen asset blackmail will not work…!
But the SWIFT system is still essential.
Only to smaller developed and developing economies; an economy built from the ground up to bypass SWIFT can be based on Chinese and Russian alternatives to SWIFT.
Perhaps, if they want to go back and start from scratch. For the last 20 years the Afghan economy was dominated by the US$. And there are $10B in Western banks. ??
For the past 20 years the Taliban have been running a shadow parallel government. Concurrent with that was a shadow parallel economy to fund everything.
There are limits to how much the Taliban care for money the U.S. steals, that they never had or needed.
‘All’ they need to do, and this is a tall order if too much comes out of the shadows, is protect the Afghan economy from U.S./NATO drone wars and special forces (foreign) Devil Brigade scouting and raiding.
Plugging into alternatives to SWIFT, should be easy if the Eurasian powers are agreeable.
If SWIFT can be weaponized against the Afghan economy and Taliban, why would they want anything to do with SWIFT?
#1. True, the Taliban have run a medieval micro-world, more primitive even than the Iranian mullahs; but, this can’t survive exposure to the larger world. The Amerindian societies world was sufficient till exposed to guns and knives.
#2. I think their national defense picture -internal, external, as well as institutional- is much more complicated. Threats are all around them -the US is not the only one capable of playing a double game; and, their level of sophistication is very low on the learning curve.
#3. For better and/or worse we live in a global system. China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran, … all need to deal with the West -culturally, economically and environmentally, at least. The Taliban can do without western pop culture; but they all want to live longer than 47. Right now they are a one cash-crop (opium) economy. And much as I hope you are right that China, et. al. will deal fairly in developing their mineral resources, history doesn’t credit it.
Finally, the Biden think-tankers are right about the “pivot”, i.e., insofar as the future will indeed prove one of the two ideological systems (Private Capitalism or Authoritarian hybrid capitalism) fitter to survive the collapsing planetary environment. The Taliban will make the right choice with China; but, the upshot will profoundly alienate them.
Its a mistake to condescend the Taliban as medieval or unsophisticated.
Politics in the region is steeped in brutality but also complexity that matches Europe. The Central Asians just didn’t think to, or have the peaceful space to, invent ever-deadlier weapons. The Islamic ban on usury also hobbled financial economic predation and quick creation of financial superelites.
The environment is being artificially collapsed; more Europe First and the neocon philosophy of being the last man standing.
CO2, for example, can be dealt with by iron-seeding the open deep ocean phytoplankton pastures. The phytoplanton will soak up the carbon, feed fish and whales which soak up even more carbon, and when they expire, eventually sequester most of the CO2 in the deepest ocean. There’s no need to kill the carbon fuel economy; this isn’t even sustainable in the long term.
However, it forces the developing world to pass a proven development path onto one the Europeans still dominate.
With most of the developing world rising and catching up with Western Europe, killing off the ocean’s fish may do for European imperials what killing off the buffalo did for American imperials.
Likewise COVID-1984; we in the West are severely inconvenienced. However, the developing world proportionally benefited more from global supply chains as these are what raised their economies, made them indispensable, and gave then negotiating power versus globalist elites.
The developing word is still important, but their negotiating start point, like that of the Western middle classes needs to be ‘reset’ to favour Europe Elites First.
COVID-1984 is destroying the independent private capitalist system. Thousands of middle class businesses have been lost to COVID-1984.
East versus West is fast becoming a contest between equally bad autocratic crony capitalist systems, as we perversely try to ‘catch up’ with China’s Western-designed, control freak QR coded dystopia.
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