USSR Handled Afghanistan Pullout Better Than US, Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt Says
© REUTERS / Jim HollanderU.S. troops to withdraw from Afghanistan
© REUTERS / Jim Hollander
In a scathing criticism of the Biden administration, former Swedish Prime Minister and Moderate Party leader Carl Bildt has called the Taliban* takeover a catastrophe that will affect US foreign and security policy for many years to come, as well as undermine global confidence in Washington.
Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt has called the fall of the Afghan government to the Taliban "a dark day that has dark consequences".
As Afghan President Ghani left the country, the Taliban invaded Kabul, and western embassies carried out emergency evacuations. Carl Bildt blamed former US President Donald Trump, who "signed an agreement with the Taliban that the US would leave if the Taliban promised to keep al-Qaeda* and other terrorist groups away", and current President Joe Biden who "continued and almost accelerated that policy".
"The agreement did not contain anything about a ceasefire, and nothing that meant a political solution. It thus opened up clearly for the Taliban to seek the military solution that they had obviously been striving for all along", Bildt mused in his blog.
Bildt said that he saw it as a turning point when the US Embassy in Kabul tweeted that all citizens should leave the country as soon as possible. This, according to him, signalled "imminent collapse".
"An army's strength is not primarily its weapons, but its morals and its confidence. But when signals came that the US considered everything lost, confidence in the Afghan Army and in the Afghan security forces was shattered", he wrote.
According to Bildt, all of this could and should have been prevented.
"The US and others should have kept a force in and around Kabul that made it impossible for the Taliban to march in, thus paving the way for a real political solution. It had provided a backbone to the Afghan forces in general", Bildt said, lamenting the absence of a will in the White House to continue. "You wanted out, and you wanted out as fast and as fully as possible", he added.
"At the time of writing, it will probably be said that the Soviet Union once handled its exodus from Afghanistan better than the United States did", Bildt, a staunch Russia hawk, concluded grudgingly.
Bildt echoed this thought on his Twitter account, in an open pique toward the Biden administration.
"I think the Biden administration should be aware that on present trends history might judge that the Soviet Union managed its exit from Afghanistan better than the US did", Bildt wrote.
I think the Biden administration should be aware that on present trends history might judge that the Soviet Union managed its exit from 🇦🇫 better than the 🇺🇸 did.— Carl Bildt (@carlbildt) August 14, 2021
In conclusion, Bildt called the Taliban takeover "a catastrophe that will, of course, affect US foreign and security policy for many years to come", envisioning a shift in priorities and perceptions that could undermine global confidence in the US and present its general rhetoric as "empty".
"That, of course, is worrying. A US that wants less and dares even less is a US that cannot contribute to international stability in the same way", Bildt summed up.
* The Taliban and al-Qaeda are terrorist groups outlawed in Russia and many other countries.