Last month, President Joe Biden (D) announced that the United States would be withdrawing its troops from Afghanistan by September 11, 2021. In response, Al Qaeda released a statement promising that there would be “war on all fronts.” Florida Rep. Michael Waltz (R), a U.S. Army Green Beret, penned an Op-Ed for the Military Times, discussing why Afghanistan is important regarding the United States’ contention with Russia, China and Iran, calling a “strategic foothold we are giving up in the backyard of America’s greatest rivals.”
In the op-ed, Waltz argues that “by abandoning Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, we will no longer have a U.S. airfield in a country that borders China.” According to analysts, if they lose control of the airfield, and “should the United States and China come to blows in the Pacific, a second front will be critical given China’s ability to concentrate its naval and missile assets around Taiwan.”
Waltz also places blame on the Biden administration, calling the decision to withdraw troops from the airfield a careless one. “In addition to giving up the only airbase in the world located in a country that physically borders China and Russia’s southern border, the Biden administration will also give up a key strategic foothold along Iran’s eastern flank, and along the nuclear-equipped and unstable Pakistan.”
He expressed concern because “Pakistan’s stability is crucial in ensuring its nuclear weapons stockpile doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.” As a result, if terrorist networks “regain a strong presence in Afghanistan - which they likely will under an emboldened Taliban regime - they will refocus their efforts to achieve their long stated goal of obtaining a nuclear weapon.”
Although President Biden assured, in his State of the Union address, that the U.S. would "maintain over the horizon the capacity to suppress future threats to the homeland," Waltz is concerned that "that won't be so easy" because the "airfield remains our sole strategic key terrain in the backyards of three of our four global competitors - China, Russia, and Iran - and we have no other options in the region."