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Tuesday, August 3, 2021

The Taliban’s March to Kabul

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Americans of a certain age recall the humiliating U.S. flight from Saigon as the North Vietnamese army marched into the city in 1975: The desperate pleas of Vietnamese at the U.S. Embassy gates, the last helicopters taking off from the Embassy roof. Could we soon see the same in Afghanistan?

On the current pace of events, we might. As the U.S. continues to withdraw its troops ahead of President Biden’s Sept. 11 deadline, the Taliban is rapidly advancing around the country. An NBC dispatch Tuesday said their gains have been so rapid that even the jihadists are surprised. Some Taliban are slowing their march to make sure they don’t give the Americans second thoughts.

The top U.S. commander in the country, the highly capable Gen. Austin Miller, told reporters in Kabul Tuesday that he’s concerned about the rapid loss of territory to the Taliban. He said for now he has the means to aid the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces, but that “what I don’t want to do is speculate what that looks like in the future.”

It won’t look like much once U.S. and allied forces depart. The Afghans are fighting bravely, but morale is falling as they anticipate the U.S. departure and potential fall of the government in Kabul. The Taliban is even advancing in the north, far from their home territory, and in districts surrounding Kabul.

Gen. Miller has little choice other than to repeat the White House line that “the way it must end for the Afghan people is something that revolves around a political solution.” He added: “I’ve also said that if you don’t reduce the violence, that political solution becomes more and more difficult.”

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