Joe Biden, who voted for the authorization of US military force in Afghanistan, said he would “end the forever war,” announcing that all troops would leave the region by the 4th of July. However, this claim is greatly misleading, as the American presence in Afghanistan will remain in the form of clandestine Special Operations Forces, government contractors and covert intelligence operatives, along with up to 1,000 US troops.
The last remaining US soldiers have reportedly left Bagram Air Base after Joe Biden announced an end to the “forever war” in Afghanistan by July 4. It is clear that Biden will tout this supposed end to US involvement in the country as the official American troop presence declines to the displeasure of the war hawks, the military industrial complex, and their ardent supporters in US mainstream media. However, as many as 1,000 troops could remain, and the apparent privatization of the war in Afghanistan has been widely unreported and kept out of public view.
Today, when asked if the withdrawal from Afghanistan was going to be “done in the next few days,” Biden said “no,” then went on to incoherently mutter something about a “rational drawdown” of US forces until September. It was clear that Biden did not want to discuss the Afghanistan withdrawal after he snapped at reporters for asking him about it. “I wanna talk about happy things, man,” Biden complained to the press.
Perhaps Biden did not want to anger the war machine, which so desperately wants Americans to support the seemingly endless failed military endeavour, or his reaction could be due to the revelation that instead of “declared troops” in Afghanistan, “a shadowy combination of clandestine Special Operations forces, Pentagon contractors and covert intelligence operatives” would remain in the country, as was reported by the New York Times.
“Regardless of whether the 3500 acknowledged U.S. troops leave Afghanistan, the U.S. military will still be present in the form of thousands of special operations and CIA personnel in and around Afghanistan, through dozens of squadrons of manned attack aircraft and drones stationed on land bases and on aircraft carriers in the region, and by hundreds of cruise missiles on ships and submarines,” said Matthew Hoh, a disabled veteran who resigned from the State Department in 2009 in protest of the war.
“These totals reflect the U.S. government’s strategy of outsourcing war to the benefit of private mercenary corporations, and as a means of distancing the war from the public and averting dissent, since relatively few Americans are directly impacted by it,” according to a report by CovertAction Magazine. “One of the biggest mercenary companies is DynCorp International of Falls Church Virginia, which has received over $7 billion in government contracts to train the Afghan army and manage military bases in Afghanistan. From 2002-2013, DynCorp received 69 percent of all State Department funding. Forbes Magazine called it “one of the big winners of the Iraq and Afghan Wars;” the losers being almost everyone else.”
As of May 2021, the Department of Defense alone employs nearly 17,000 contractors in Afghanistan. Additionally, as noted by Professional Services Council President and CEO David Berteau, “other agencies continue to award new contracts, so they’re not leaving, they’re actually probably going to have to beef up their activities there.”
“The Pentagon has been pretty tight lipped about the plans as far as contractors are concerned,” said Bloomberg Government reporter Roxana Tiron.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, a former member of the Raytheon Board of Directors, who has awarded billions of dollars in contracts to Raytheon since his January confirmation, recently said the Afghanistan withdrawal process was “on pace” during a House Armed Services Committee hearing.
“Austin at the time had made a commitment to resign from Raytheon’s board and recuse himself from all matters concerning Raytheon for four years and agreed to divest from his financial holdings in the company, amounting to between $500,000 and $1.7 million in stock. These initiatives, however, have not prevented Austin from using his position to bolster Raytheon’s fortunes.” Just yesterday the Defense Department announced that Raytheon would be awarded a contract worth $2,000,000,000.
Furthermore, just days into the Biden administration, a large US military convoy reportedly entered northern Syria, signifying further US involvement in the Middle East, with additional convoys entering the northern part of the country from Iraq in the months following. Just 36 days in office, Biden ordered an airstrike that targeted multiple facilities apparently being used by Iran-backed militia forces in Syria. More recently, Biden ordered airstrikes in Iraq and Syria against supposed Iranian-backed militias in retaliation for drone attacks. Even the Washington Post admitted that in launching airstrikes in Syria and Iraq, Biden has lowered the bar for the use of military force in the Middle East.
Joe Biden may claim that he is bringing the Afghanistan War to its long-awaited end, but the American people ought to know better. The end of US interventionism in the Middle East has only become more distant since the Biden administration took power. Should the Afghanistan withdrawal plans fall through for some reason, it should come as a surprise to no one, given that Biden had supported US military involvement for the wars in Iraq, Serbia, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan prior to his 2020 Presidential run.