Zawahiri Strike Boosts Biden On Afghan Exit Anniversary; Concerns Persist. President Joe Biden ignored both Covid and his detractors to announce the killing of Al-leader Qaeda’s in Kabul, an operation the Democrat claims demonstrates the US is still as strong as ever, weeks before the anniversary of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, which critics claimed revealed his weakness.
Biden informed the nation late Monday as he announced the passing of Ayman al-Zawahiri, “When I concluded our military mission in Afghanistan about a year ago, I took the decision that after 20 years of war, the United States no longer needed thousands of boots on the ground in Afghanistan.”
“I pledged to the American people that we would keep carrying out successful counterterrorism operations… That’s exactly what we did.”
Zawahiri Strike Boosts Biden On Afghan Exit Anniversary; Concerns Persist. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, presidents have developed a ritual of somberly and intensely politicized announcements regarding the deaths of jihadist leaders.
The country was electrified by Barack Obama’s admission in 2011 of the risky operation to assassinate Osama bin Laden in his Pakistani home. After hearing Obama, a talented orator, crowds of people chanted “USA!” in the streets.
In 2019, Donald Trump adopted a different strategy, using graphic language to announce an operation to assassinate the leader of the Islamic State group, Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, in Syria while also enhancing his own strong man persona.
Trump replied, “He died like a dog.
Biden felt that the environment was unfavorable. The Democrat is in a precarious situation as a result of a case of rebound Covid-19, poor poll numbers, and the traumatic August 2021 withdrawal of US forces from Kabul, which will be commemorated this month.
His address was given from the Blue Room’s noisy balcony as a tribute to Covid ventilation precautions. Washington police sirens blasted in the distance as he extolled American tenacity.
However, for a president looking to change the narrative, the timing of the address could not have been better.
Biden highlighted that Zawahiri had been on the wanted list “for years under presidents (George W.) Bush, Obama, and Trump” without displaying any sense of success.
The subtext, that the nation is secure under Biden’s care, was obvious.
The United States will track you out and eliminate you, no matter how long it takes or where you hide, according to Biden.
Debate about Afghan strategy
Right- and left-wing critics alike view the US pullout from Kabul last year as a display of incompetence that, in addition to being a humiliating spectacle, will turn Afghanistan into a haven for anti-American Islamic extremists, just like it was before 9/11.
According to Biden, there was simply never going to be a satisfactory conclusion to the disaster, and he had the guts to finish a conflict that had been started by three prior presidents.
He dismissed doubters and asserted that American “beyond the horizon” capabilities would eliminate the need to endanger US life on the ground.
With the murder of Zawahiri, Biden now has a great chance to assert that he was correct.
In his speech, Biden stated that Afghanistan “cannot be a launching platform against the United States.” This operation shows unequivocally that we will, can, and will always keep our word on the solemn commitment.
Even unusual sources immediately praised the move, with the evening anchor of the frequently antagonistic Fox News program referring to it as “President Biden’s bin Laden moment” and “a great, huge success for the US.”
However, several analysts advise against believing the White House propaganda.
Former US ambassador to Iraq and current director of the Middle East Program at the Wilson Center, James Jeffrey, praised the use of “good information, an operational striking capacity, and decisiveness.”
That knowledge did not, however, trump the “chaos” of the Afghan withdrawal last year, which Jeffrey attributed to ineffective planning and Biden’s “handicapping” of staff by refusing to acknowledge there might be any drawbacks to withdrawing or to prepare for them.
The sheer fact that Zawahiri is in Kabul, according to Nathan Sales, a fellow former diplomat who works for the Atlantic Council, is a failure for the United States and suggests that “as anticipated, the Taliban is once more offering safe haven to the leaders of Al-Qaeda.”
Furthermore, he added that it is still too early to judge whether a spectacular drone strike “can be duplicated against other terrorist targets.”
We should resist the temptation to interpret the strike as a victory for “beyond the horizon” counterterrorism until we have additional information.
But thus far, Biden has received generally positive reviews. Bill McRaven, who directed the bin Laden attack as the then-commander of US special operations, was among those who cheered on Tuesday.
He told CNN, “What the US has demonstrated is that we can actually execute over-the-horizon targeting on some high value persons.