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As the U.S. approaches the dateline for a complete military pullout from Afghanistan, around September 11, and demands from Iraq to withdraw troops from its soil grow ever louder, questions are increasingly emerging about the assessment of the almost 20-year military presence and the success of these operations.
The U.S. Government has squandered trillions of dollars on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq while failing to achieve any objectives, according to former U.S. counter-terrorism specialist and CIA military intelligence officer Philip Giraldi, who wrote an op-ed article for Strategic Culture Foundation.
In the article, Giraldi made the remarks as U.S. soldiers leave Afghanistan after an almost twenty-year war and pressure mounts on the Biden administration to withdraw all troops from Iraq.
"Not only did the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq make bad situations worse, but the fact that no one in Washington was able to define “victory” and think in terms of an exit strategy has meant that the wars and instability are still with us," Giraldi wrote. "In their wake has been hundreds of thousands of deaths and trillions of dollars spent to accomplish absolutely nothing."
He also lamented the development of a situation where, in his opinion, Iraq now has a stronger connection to "Iran than it does to Washington."
"The Iraqi Parliament has, in fact, asked U.S. forces to leave the country, a request that has been ignored both by Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Trump actually threatened to freeze Iraqi bank assets to pressure the Iraqis into accepting the continued US occupation," he added.
The former CIA agent also criticized the American presence in Syria, which takes place despite the fact that the current government of President Bashar al-Assad did not ask the United States to intervene in the long civil conflict.
"At the same time, American troops illegally present in neighboring Syria, continue to occupy that country’s oil fields to deprive the government in Damascus of much-needed resources. Neither Iraq nor Syria threatens the United States in any way," Giraldi noted.
According to the former military spy, given that history, it should come as "no surprise that the withdrawal from the twenty-year-long nation-building project in Afghanistan, long overdue, is not quite going as smoothly as the Pentagon and White House apparently planned."
And in general, the Taliban* movement in Afghanistan "is racking up victory after victory against U.S. and NATO trained Afghan government forces who have the disadvantage of having to defend everywhere, making them vulnerable to attacks on an opportunity basis." He also noted that the Taliban "plausibly" claim to control at least 85% of the countryside, including numerous significant towns and provinces as well as crossing points into Pakistan.
All in all, the author reckoned that the US involvement in Afghanistan in "the struggle to rid the world of the wrong kind of terrorists" has left the country "weaker and more unfocused" than it was in 2001.
China, Russia and Iran are already maneuvering to fill the impending power vacuum in Central Asia by coming to terms with the likely Taliban takeover, which might come sooner that Joe Biden expects. https://t.co/D4cvpJ89m5
As President Biden pledged to complete the military withdrawal by the end of August, and the whole military presence in the war-torn nation will be reduced to a battalion of soldiers to secure the Embassy and CIA station in Kabul, Giraldi notes that the situation in itself is "not sustainable unless some kind of workable Afghan government coalition can be achieved." However, referring to the Taliban's successful offensive, he figures that this "appears to be increasingly unlikely."
"So getting out of Afghanistan will be a lot trickier than going in," Giraldi concluded. "And there is no escaping the fact that the entire Afghan adventure was one hell of a waste of lives and resources. Next time, maybe Washington will hesitate to charge in, but given the lack of any deep thinking going on in the White House, I suspect we Americans could easily find ourselves in yet another Afghanistan."
On Sunday, Mustafa al-Kadhimi, Iraq's prime minister, stated in an interview that his country no longer requires American troops on its soil. And earlier this week, it was reported that in the next days, top US and Iraqi officials are anticipated to announce the withdrawal of American troops from the war-torn country by the end of 2021.
Earlier in July, the US Department of Defense stated that around 90% of troops have already left Afghanistan, while the Taliban has been pushing back the Afghan military and gaining control of important areas of territory.