Citing his reasons for resisting pleas from allies to keep American troops in Afghanistan beyond an agreed upon August 31st deadline, President Joe Biden alluded to the threat of a terrorist group that goes by the moniker ISIS-K.
“Every day we’re on the ground is another day we know that ISIS-K is seeking to target the airport, attack both U.S. and allied forces and innocent civilians,” Biden said in remarks at the White House on Tuesday.
If this offshoot of the notoriously fanatic and ruthless Islamic State group manages to throw a metaphorical, as well as literal, bomb into the evacuation effort, it is hard to predict what chaos might ensue, but it would not be pretty.
So far, despite being caught flat-footed by the sudden collapse of Afghanistan’s U.S.-trained army and U.S.-backed government and the subsequent swift takeover by the Taliban, the evacuation process has been a remarkable display of American logistical prowess. More than 70,000 people have been flown out of Kabul’s airport in just 10 days. Biden clearly would like to finish the airlift in a more-or-less successful manner before ISIS or some other gang of terrorists can wreak havoc.
The bigger question is whether, once the U.S. pullout is complete, Afghanistan will once again become a haven for terrorist groups. An attack from one such band of evildoers on September 11, 2001 was, after all, what got Americans into Afghanistan in the first place. If the terrorists stroll back into Afghanistan after 20 years of war, it would be a cruel irony, but would it mean that the war should not have been brought to an end?
The answer is an emphatic no. The United States has bigger challenges than terrorism. The COVID-19 pandemic has already killed vastly more Americans than terrorists ever have. Climate Change is taking more lives and causing more destruction than any terror group could dream of doing. Compared to adversaries like China and Russia, ISIS and al Qaida and the Taliban are pipsqueaks.
Yes, terrorists are going to be an ongoing, provocative menace, but they can be kept in check by various means that fall far short of trying to rebuild entire countries. We have much larger problems to face — none that can be fixed by simply unleashing the military on some new mission with no end.
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