Much was to be made in the 2020 presidential campaign about Joe Biden’s vow to be the most progressive president since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Most of that commentary was centered around domestic programs, with little attention given to what a Biden foreign policy might look like.
Thus far, writes Marine combat veteran Matthew Hoh, it has been a disappointment. He has continued a $1.5 billion dollar nuclear arms build-up, a decidedly hostile approach towards Iran, and airstrikes against Syria. American foreign policy, writes Hoh, continues to be “inept, fiscally ruinous, morally bankrupt and existentially dangerous.” But there is no greater bleeding wound than the United States’ unending war on terror.
President Biden now has an opportunity to “not only realize progressive change, but begin a new era of US leadership that accepts the failure of American warfare, atones for imperial hubris, and instead leads the world cooperatively.” And he can start with Afghanistan.
The war in Afghanistan has been ongoing for over forty years. To any objective observer – one without ties of career, money or legacy to the war industry – it has not only failed, but also been counterproductive. Al Qaeda’s ranks have swelled year after year, while the people of Afghanistan have suffered through a living nightmare unimaginable to most westerners. All in, writes Hoh, “The U.S. has poured trillions of dollars and thousands of lives into the Afghan War with no success other than the promotions of generals and the profits of weapons companies.”
With the announcement that he will withdraw all US troops from Afghanistan by 9/11, President Biden has an opportunity to initiate a long-overdue peace process, and a unique chance to begin the long process of harm reduction in US foreign policy. Embracing peace can be the first of many achievements to “undo military catastrophe, bring reconciliation and stability to broken nations, and actually strengthen America’s standing in the world.” Now that, Hoh concludes, “would be the mark of a progressive president.”
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