Mr. Bush chose not to publicly question Mr. Biden’s decision.
“As he has maintained since leaving office, President Bush will refuse to comment on private phone calls or his successors,” said Freddy Ford, his chief of staff.
Years after the first invasion, a number of Afghan governments failed to maintain control of large parts of the country. This is at the core of the American military’s “keep clear, build” strategy. While a number of Afghan leaders, backed by the United States and its allies, pledged to fight corruption, end the drug scourge and establish stable governance, all of these achievements have proven fragile at best.
Women have played a more prominent role in government, and girls have been trained to an extent not seen before the war began. However, the future of these achievements is in doubt if the Taliban gain more ground.
In one Statement on TwitterPresident Ashraf Ghani of Afghanistan said his country “respects the US decision and we will work with our US partners to ensure a smooth transition.” He added that his country’s security forces are “fully capable of defending its people”.
But privately, according to people who spoke to him, Mr. Ghani was annoyed about the American decision. He fears this will encourage the Taliban and give them little to no incentive to stick to the terms of the deal they made with Mr. Trump a year ago. And many around Mr Ghani fear that his own government, whose influence has already waned, could fall if the Taliban decide to take the capital, Kabul.
“Just because we’re pulling out of Afghanistan doesn’t mean the war is over,” said Lisa Curtis, one of Trump’s top national security officials on Afghanistan. “It’s likely to get worse.”
Mr Biden is the first president to oppose the Pentagon’s recommendations that any withdrawal be “conditional,” which means that security must be ensured on the ground before Americans withdraw. If military officials have argued for a long time, they would signal the Taliban to just wait for the Americans – after that they would offer little resistance to taking further control and possibly threatening Kabul.