Wrong Assumptions

An anonymous writer for the Associated Press summarized the views of some in the operational (as opposed to the political) side of our Federal government regarding our pending withdrawal from Afghanistan.

An unclassified report released Tuesday by the Director of National Intelligence says the Taliban remain “broadly consistent in its restrictive approach to women’s rights and would roll back much of the past two decades’ progress if the group regained national power.”
It’s the latest US warning of the consequences of the Afghan withdrawal now underway, two decades after an American-led coalition toppled the Taliban. General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Sunday that there would possibly be “some really dramatic, bad possible outcomes” for Afghan forces left on their own to counter the Taliban, but also noted, “We frankly don’t know yet.” And CIA Director William Burns told Congress in April that the American ability “to collect and act on threats will diminish.”

That’s bad enough.

The really dangerous aspect of our withdrawal—for our nation and our friends and allies, as well as for Afghanis—is this from our Secretary of State:

Secretary of State Antony Blinken has acknowledged that a Taliban takeover of the country is possible after the withdrawal. But he has also maintained that the group does not want to be a pariah and will have to embrace or at least tolerate the rights of women, girls, and minorities if it wants to be viewed as legitimate by the international community.

These are dangerously unfounded premises; Blinken is assuming the men [sic] of the Taliban think like we do. He’s assuming these men care about any pariah status from outsiders. He’s assuming these men care about what the international community thinks of them. He’s assuming these men are outward looking in any way.

Such blithe self-centered attitudes blind us to our enemies’ capabilities, and worse, blind us to their intentions.

The National Intelligence Council’s unclassified report can be seen here.

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