JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The debate over the US handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan continues.
Among the worries is keeping terrorism at bay.
President Joe Biden and his aides promise the U.S. can keep terror threats from Afghanistan at bay from afar by employing what’s called over the horizon surveillance and strikes.
But counter-terrorism and intelligence officials suggest it will be much more difficult and less effective than the White House suggests.
A retired Army lieutenant general who has ties to Jacksonville and served in Afghanistan on the front lines in the war on terror talked about whether with a volatile ISIS-K and other unstable factions, the U.S. can be effective in keeping terrorism at bay from afar.
“Well, for sure it’s going to be a little bit more difficult without having the access there than we thought we were going to have if the government of Afghanistan had remained in power, but we are where we are,” said retired Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges. “And, of course, it’s not just kinetic tools -- killing terrorists -- is the only way to do this. I think the financial tools that the United States and our allies have are also important. So when we talk about over the horizon, it also means drying up the financial resources that the terrorists need. This is a tool I think that’s been underutilized for sure. We’re going to need help and access from other allies.
These days Hodges serves as the Pershing Chair for Strategic Studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis in Frankfurt, Germany. He discussed the United States’ future role in Afghanistan and the possibility of diplomatic relations if the Taliban is successful in establishing a government.
So, of course, this is going to be hard and it seems almost unimaginable right now, but if you think about it, you know, we went to work with the new German government at the end of World War II and the same with Japan,” Hodges said. “Right now, Vietnam is one of our most important partners in the Indo Pacific region, our Vice President was just there. So it’s a fact that we’re going to have to deal with whoever is in power in Afghanistan, at some point very soon.”
As for the 200 or so Americans still in Afghanistan, Hodges says he believes they decided to stay on their own because there was work they still had to do, and he’s confident when they are ready to return to the U.S. that return will be made possible through diplomatic channels if not by traditional means.