Allies sweat over American's Afghanistan withdrawal
Huang Yongfu
People struggle to cross the boundary wall of Hamid Karzai International Airport to flee the country, August 16, 2021. /Getty

People struggle to cross the boundary wall of Hamid Karzai International Airport to flee the country, August 16, 2021. /Getty

Editor's note: Huang Yongfu is an economic affairs commentator. After being awarded a PhD, he started his career at the University of Cambridge, and then moved on to the UN system. He is the author of many papers and books related to economics. His current interests lie in global development and Sino-U.S. links, especially trade, financial and technological issues. The article reflects the author's opinions and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

In recent days, the world has witnessed a vivid and ugly withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. Despite U.S. President Joe Biden's boast that "America is back," his administration's botched display has embarrassed America on the world stage as a foreign-policy humiliation where American diplomats had to ask the Taliban not to storm their embassy in Kabul. The unfolding disaster in Afghanistan will have lasting repercussions, with more trouble ahead and more painful costs.

Biden's principal justification for the Afghan withdrawal is to reduce the U.S. footprint in peripheral theaters so as to meet the threats of today and focus on great-power competition.

The first threat Biden has identified is "the strategic competition with China," for which his administration has actively built momentum for an international coalition to contain China. However, America's calamitous scuttle has shocked its allies and caused a devastating loss of U.S. credibility around the world, like the 1975 Saigon incident.

Over two decades, the U.S. has rarely put first the interests of the Afghan allies who served and put their trust in the U.S. government.

Under a humiliating deal with the Taliban, a "safe passage" has been agreed for Americans and foreign nationals, not necessarily for thousands of those Afghan allies and their families. Flying Americans to safety while leaving Afghan allies and others behind makes the America's self-proclaimed moral-standing, democracy and freedom look pale, and stamps a stain on the Biden presidency.

The U.S.'s Afghan allies who are desperate to apply for the Special Immigrant Visa program show documents for their applications, August 4, 2021. /Getty

The U.S.'s Afghan allies who are desperate to apply for the Special Immigrant Visa program show documents for their applications, August 4, 2021. /Getty

Those Afghan allies and their family members are qualified for U.S. entry under the Special Immigrant Visa (SIV) program set up in 2006. The application process usually takes more than 500 days. Unfortunately, Washington has not taken warnings seriously about moving faster to process these visa applications, leaving hundreds of people and their family members killed when waiting for approval in recent years. There were about 1,800 SIVs for Afghans approved in fiscal 2020 due to the pandemic, down from 9,741 the year before. 

Owing to America's reckless withdrawal, thousands of Afghan allies, their families, and other officials didn't get evacuated in time, stranded in Kabul or the south and east of the country where Americans did most of the fighting. Early this week, the world watched the chaotic scenes at the airport where panicked Afghan allies clung to a U.S. military aircraft in a desperate attempt to escape and two fell from the sky to their deaths, which became the indelible images of this debacle.

Given Biden's pledge of not putting one more American soldier at risk and fear of American hostages in Taliban hands, no military actions will be taken to protect those Afghan allies. Essentially, the White House has refused to take care of them; otherwise Biden could have told the Taliban that U.S. troops aren't leaving without those Afghans.

America's disgraceful defeat in Afghanistan, as well as its arrogant and incompetent manner, has dismayed its European allies, which invoked Article 5 of the NATO mutual defense treaty to come to support the U.S. Hence, they deserved to have a say in either the substance or the timing to end the war and leave the country.

It is expected that the European allies will doubt the reliability and dependability of the U.S. being an ally while showing much less deference and respect for Biden.

Washington's unreliability is embodied by the intensified external security threats for India, part of the "Quad" for checking China in the Indo-Pacific, rendering the U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy a wobbled "triangle table."

Under "the woke doctrine," American elites single out China for "the geopolitical threat of the 21st century." To counter China's rise, the Biden administration has determined to forge a new "axis of evil.

China has a legitimate right to develop while America's credibility is declining and further shot amid the Taliban's takeover. The Americans should not underestimate how many potential allies it has to lose by turning its back on China. 

As it stands, China is already the largest trading goods partner of almost twice as many countries as America, and by many economic measures China will become a powerful global force whatever America does. America's European allies such as Britain, France and Germany aim to sustain commercial links with China, while many countries in South-East Asia look to China for their prosperity.

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