Fdd's overnight brief

August 18, 2021

In The News


The Biden administration said Tuesday that the airport in Kabul was open for both military and civilian flights, but access remained near-impossible for the thousands of Afghans seeking to leave Afghanistan, as the Taliban strengthened control over the city and a Taliban leader returned from exile. – Wall Street Journal  

The European Union’s top diplomat says that it is necessary to talk with the Taliban to secure the evacuation of foreign nationals and those Afghans who have worked with NATO forces. – Washington Post 

The Taliban must not let Afghanistan become a breeding ground for terrorism again, NATO said on Tuesday, warning that the alliance after its withdrawal still has the military power to strike any terrorist group from a distance. – Reuters 

The leaders of Afghanistan‘s Taliban will show themselves to the world, an official of the Islamist movement said on Wednesday, unlike during the past 20 years, when its leaders have lived largely in secret. – Reuters 

 President Joe Biden’s pledge to evacuate thousands more at-risk Afghans who worked for the U.S. government will run into the cold reality of a fast-closing window of time, insecurity all over Afghanistan and major logistical hurdles. – Reuters 

More than 2,200 diplomats and other civilians have been evacuated from Afghanistan on military flights, a Western security official told Reuters on Wednesday, as efforts gathered pace to get people out after the Taliban seized the capital. – Reuters 

The Taliban vowed Tuesday to respect women’s rights, forgive those who fought them and ensure Afghanistan does not become a haven for terrorists as part of a publicity blitz aimed at reassuring world powers and a fearful population. – Associated Press 

 The European Union has no immediate plans to recognize the Taliban after their sweeping victory in Afghanistan but will talk with the militants to ensure that European citizens and Afghans who have worked with the EU can leave safely, the bloc’s top diplomat said Tuesday. – Associated Press 

Multiple federal agencies that operated in Afghanistan and worked with Afghan citizens have been hastily purging their websites, removing articles and photos that could endanger the Afghan civilians who interacted with them and now fear retribution from the Taliban. – Associated Press 

The Taliban is rushing to work out how to govern Afghanistan after the militant Islamist group’s exiled leaders came back to a country that has changed profoundly since it was driven from power 20 years ago. – Financial Times  

The Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan redraws Asia’s geopolitical map and hands China and Russia — two of America’s staunchest strategic rivals — an opportunity to project their power in the wake of Washington’s chaotic withdrawal, analysts in several countries said. – Financial Times  

The Biden administration scrambled to put a botched evacuation of Afghanistan back on track on Tuesday as it admitted its original plans needed to be changed following a day of chaos and violence at Kabul’s international airport. – Financial Times  

One of the first and youngest female mayors in Afghanistan , Zarifa Ghafari, said the Taliban “will come for people like me,” anticipating the militant group will try to kill her after successfully overtaking the country’s government. – Washington Examiner 

National security adviser Jake Sullivan declined to recognize the Taliban as the legitimate government of Afghanistan on Tuesday, claiming that it is “premature” to make that assessment. – Washington Examiner 

The U.S. has warned the Taliban that interference with evacuation efforts out of Afghanistan would be met with “overwhelming force,” Gen. Frank McKenzie, the commander of U.S. Central Command, said on Tuesday. – The Hill 

As the Taliban pledged a policy of no “internal or external enemies” on Tuesday following its seizure of the Afghan capital Kabul, Israel and Western countries are weighing the danger that Islamist fundamentalist organizations could return the country into a base for their terrorist acts and other malign activities abroad. – Algemeiner  

A body was found in the wheel well of a U.S. military plane hours after it left Kabul, Afghanistan, amid the chaos of desperate Afghans hoping to flee as the Taliban took power, the U.S. Air Force said Tuesday. – NBC 

Editorial: Leaving Afghan translators and others behind would be a betrayal of the U.S. commitment. The sight of the U.S. flying Westerners to safety while abandoning Afghans would harm America’s moral standing for years. Mr. Biden needs to tell the Taliban that U.S. troops aren’t leaving without those Afghans. – Wall Street Journal 

Editorial: The real question isn’t what Mr. Guterres or anyone else at the U.N. will do substantively to protect Afghanistan’s women and girls or other vulnerable individuals. The answer is nothing. The question is how long it will take before the worthies in Turtle Bay hand Afghanistan’s seat in the General Assembly to the new Taliban government. This being the U.N., a seat on the Human Rights Council won’t be far behind. – Wall Street Journal  

Mike Pence writes: The Biden administration’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan is a foreign-policy humiliation unlike anything our country has endured since the Iran hostage crisis. […] But the manner in which Mr. Biden has executed this withdrawal is a disgrace, unworthy of the courageous American service men and women whose blood still stains the soil of Afghanistan. – Wall Street Journal 

Adam O’Neal writes: Thousands have made it to the U.S. through the program, but hundreds of translators and family members have been killed while waiting for approval. Now, with the extremist group in power, thousands could face a similar fate. The problem didn’t begin with the Biden administration, but the White House has done almost nothing to resolve it. State instead maintained the delusion that the U.S. could keep a diplomatic presence in Afghanistan and continue processing visas well into the future. – Wall Street Journal 

Dan Crenshaw writes: America didn’t lose a war, or even end one. We gave up on a strategic national-security interest. We gave up on our Afghan allies, expecting them to stave off a ruthless insurgency without our crucial support, which came at minimal cost to us. This administration’s actions are heartless, its justifications nonsensical. The consequences are dire for innocent Afghans and for America’s prestige. – Wall Street Journal 

Mark Mazzetti, Julian E. Barnes and Adam Goldman write: Intelligence agencies have long predicted an ultimate Taliban victory, even before President Donald J. Trump and Mr. Biden decided to withdraw forces. […] Military and intelligence assessments predicting that the government in Kabul could hold on at least a year before a Taliban takeover were built on a premise that proved to be flawed: that the Afghan army would put up a fight. – New York Times  

David Von Drehle writes: If Biden had taken the Taliban more seriously, he would not own such a shameful outcome. […]Further fighting was no longer a question of maintaining a status quo. The status quo was a Taliban advantage. To undo that success, to return even to a stalemate — much less to achieve the wins that eluded us — would have required a new U.S. infusion: new troops, new money, new strategy, new timetable. – Washington Post  

Charles Lane writes: In short, Biden’s plan to get the last 2,500 U.S. troops out by Aug. 31, the goal of which was avoiding a new conflict with the Taliban, has spawned a follow-on crisis, which might well require 6,000 troops — or more — to stay beyond Aug. 31. […]Everything — the airlift, Afghanistan’s future, history’s judgment on Biden’s leadership — now depends on whether this triumphant terrorist army considers it advantageous to let the Americans, and their friends, depart in peace. – Washignton Post  

Ezzatullah Mehdad and Griff Wiite write: As Afghanistan’s once-again rulers, the Taliban would refrain from retributory violence and respect women’s rights — at least so far as Islam allows. It would forgive domestic rivals and seek good relations with longtime foreign enemies. […]The many faces of the Taliban have led to profound confusion not only in Western capitals, but also in Kabul this week. Although the Taliban has been a force in Afghanistan for a quarter-century, its strength has been rooted in the country’s rural areas, especially in the south. – Washington Post  

Kathleeen Parker writes: Taliban leaders today say they’re not the same group as before. They say they want women to be educated and to work alongside men. This could be true or false, but toward which answer would you lean? Maybe the Taliban doesn’t plan to confine or execute disobedient women — not this week, anyway. But cultures immersed in religious dogma, willing to kill and be killed for their fevered convictions, don’t change their stripes in a generation. – Washington Post  

Condoleezza Rice writes: Technically, our longest war is not Afghanistan: It is Korea. That war didn’t end in victory; it ended in a stalemate — an armistice. […]Afghanistan is not South Korea. But we might have achieved a reasonable outcome with a far smaller commitment. More time for the Afghans didn’t have to entail combat troops, just a core American presence for training, air support and intelligence. – Washington Post 

Eli Lake writes: The Taliban would like the world to know that they’re no longer the child-bride-marrying mass murderers that they used to be. […] Biden would be wise to reject proposals that try to leverage U.S. assistance to reform the Taliban. They are irredeemable. It was bad enough that Biden abandoned Afghanistan despite the warnings of his military leaders. Worse still was how the administration failed to plan for the rescue of American civilians and Afghan allies before the military withdrawal. To subsidize the barbaric regime that has now taken over would be a final, ignominious blow to America’s honor. – Bloomberg 

Izabella Kaminska writes: The Kabul that the Taliban inherit in 2021 will thus be a far cry from the devastated city they fled in 2001. It will have functioning infrastructure — whether its in the form of healthcare facilities or telecoms — and a leisure industry. […]Either way, what happens with Afghanistan’s digital monetary system under the Taliban could prove critical in determining how the next chapter of the new great game unfolds. – Financial Times  

Jon Sopel writes: Did no-one think that it might have been better to have ordered the withdrawal for the dead of winter when Taliban forces weren’t there, poised to fill the vacuum? The end result might have been the same – a Taliban takeover – but it would have almost certainly led to a more orderly drawdown. […] And who will feel they have gained most from America’s departure – apart from the Taliban, of course? Why, three countries that neighbour Afghanistan – Russia, Iran and China. I’m not sure that is what Joe Biden had in mind when he said after his inauguration that “America is back”. – BBC 

Vanda Felbab-Brown writes: Perhaps no one predicted that the Afghan National Defense and Security Forces would fold so quickly. But for several years, there had been signs that the Taliban were becoming militarily ascendant and that the ANDSF suffered from critical deficiencies that the Afghan government ignored and was itself exacerbating. […]After two decades, 2,400 dead Americans, and $1 trillion, this was hardly the outcome the United States hoped for in Afghanistan. But it was years in the making. – Foreign Affairs 

Michael Rubin writes: Tens of thousands of Afghans who applied for Special Immigrant Visas remain stranded in Kabul. While the State Department has finally waived some of the paperwork requirements, their move is too little, too late. – 19FortyFive 

Anthony H. Cordesman writes: The United States does, however, need to be realistic, it needs to accept some such compromises, and it needs to find the best way it can exert some degree of influence in ways that can protect the Afghan people and lead the Taliban to evolve as soon as possible. Treating the Taliban as an isolated enemy will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. It will ensure that the Taliban not only is hostile, but that the end state will involve the worst possible results for all of the Afghan people. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


Iran’s embassy in the Afghan capital Kabul remains open and fully active, state media reported on Tuesday, a day after Tehran welcomed the “military failure” of its arch-foe the United States as it withdraws its forces from Afghanistan. – Reuters  

Iran’s top leader appointed a new chief for the country’s navy, state media reported Tuesday. – Associated Press 

Mohammad Ayatollahi Tabaar writes: Although Raisi has held out the prospect of talks with regional powers to lower tensions, the emerging unified leadership in Iran sees itself in a win-win position. It is confident in its military and has long known how to thrive on conflicts and expand its nonstate allies. Thanks to the new domestic political transformation, it can also make tactical compromises with its adversaries without the risk of exacerbating internal divisions. As a new era of the Islamic Republic begins, Iran and the United States are on a collision course. – Foreign Affairs 

Marie Abdi writes: Nevertheless, it seems that should Amirabdollahian’s Foreign Ministry wish to conclude the negotiations, this goal will only be achieved if the supreme leader agrees — at least on a de facto basis — to revise some of his previous preconditions. […]Even so, however, it remains to be seen whether the level of hypothetical flexibility in Tehran will suffice to reach an agreement on the nuclear program and the removal of U.S. sanctions. – Middle East Institute  

John Calabrese  writes: Thus, some of the shortcomings of Iran’s pandemic response can be understood as collateral damage inflicted by the regime’s “resistance strategy.” For how long the regime can sustain maximum resistance — and without resorting to maximum repression — is likely to depend not just on how deftly it plays its hand in seeking sanctions relief but how competently it manages the critical mission of responding to the pandemic. – Middle East Institute 

Yonah Jeremy Bob writes: While the uranium metal news is problematic, Iran has been producing uranium metal since February, so the latest report could be downplayed as just more of the same and no radical change to the current standoff. […]The former IAEA official seemed to indicate that the timing of the announcement, along with other revelations and the general tone of brinksmanship which new Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi has taken, heighten the danger of a nuclear crisis. – Jerusalem Post  

Seth J. Frantzman writes: Iran’s tensions with the Taliban shifted when America invaded Afghanistan after 9/11. Tehran is cynical and pragmatic, and much as it once was happy to accept Saddam’s air force fleeing from Iraq, it welcomed Al Qaeda elements and hosted them. Now Iran is watching as the Taliban come to power and Iran has met with them. Where Iran agrees with the Taliban is the need to get the US out of Afghanistan. But where it disagrees is in how the Taliban may treat minorities. – Jerusalem Post  


Discussions between the political echelon and the top echelons of the IDF and the Mossad took place last week regarding the naval arena and Iran’s activity against Israeli-owned vessels. – Jerusalem Post  

The IDF is prepared to act against Hamas when the time is right, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned, during a visit to the IDF’s Gaza Division on Tuesday, the day after a Hamas rocket attack. – Jerusalem Post  

Israeli drones from the company Percepto are being used to monitor various locations in the United Arab Emirates, including oil fields, solar farms and other infrastructure. The drones are used for security purposes and also to identify malfunctions in real time. – Jerusalem Post  

Barring any last-minute change, Qatari aid money to the Gaza Strip is expected to be handed to more than 100,000 families in the coming days, a source close to Hamas said on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post  

Israel signed on to a statement initiated by the US State Department and endorsed by over 70 countries calling “on all parties to respect and facilitate the safe and orderly departure of foreign nationals and Afghans who wish to leave the country.” – Jerusalem Post 

The Palestinian Authority sent four firefighting teams to assist Israeli first responders on Tuesday, as fires continued to burn in the Jerusalem hills for the third consecutive day. – Times of Israel  

Middle East & North Africa

President Kais Saied has criticised Tunisia’s economic policy, urged traders to charge less for food and medicine and accused unnamed businessmen of stealing billions of dollars while police are investigating corruption in state industry. – Reuters  

Abdulrahman Tayeb, a Yemeni doctor, was shocked when his hospital in southern Saudi Arabia told him his contract would not be renewed, leaving him with a difficult choice: go home to a nation at war or try to find work in another country. He is not alone. Hundreds of medical staff, academics and other professionals in the kingdom’s southern region bordering Yemen have in recent weeks been told they are being let go, several Yemenis told Reuters. – Reuters  

Syrian state media reported that Israel carried out a missile attack on southern Syria late on Tuesday, targeting an unspecified military position. There was no immediate comment from Israel. – Associated Press 

Libyan authorities said a senior government official was released on Tuesday, two weeks after armed men abducted him and his colleague in the capital of Tripoli. – Associated Press 

Three people were killed Tuesday when a Turkish air raid hit a clinic in northwest Iraq, a region Ankara regularly targets in operations against Kurdish separatists, security and medical sources said. – Agence-France Presse 

Jordan and Israel signed an agricultural cooperation agreement ahead of the shmita year, in a meeting between Israeli Agriculture Minister Oded Forrer and his Jordanian counterpart Rasan al-Majali on the border between the countries on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post  

Seth J. Frantzman writes: There are two types of people celebrating. There are countries that quietly worked with the Taliban to remove the US from Afghanistan. These include Russia, China, Iran, Pakistan and likely Qatar and Turkey as well. […]The third generation of extremists came to support ISIS. So will a new generation really be inspired by the Taliban, Hamas, HTS and other groups? This remains to be seen. – Jerusalem Post 


China’s top legislative body is expected this week to pass a privacy law that resembles the world’s most robust framework for online privacy protections, Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation. But unlike European governments, which themselves face more public pressure over data collection, Beijing is expected to maintain broad access to data under the new Personal Information Protection Law. – Wall Street Journal 

China carried out assault drills near Taiwan on Tuesday, with warships and fighter jets exercising off the southwest and southeast of the island in what the country’s armed forces said was a response to “external interference” and “provocations”. – Reuters 

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said on Wednesday that 43 apps, including Tencent Holdings Ltd’s (0700.HK) WeChat, were found to have illegally transferred user data, and ordered their parent companies to make rectifications. – Reuters  

Republican Senator Marco Rubio urged President Joe Biden on Tuesday to block short-form video app TikTok in the United States after China took an ownership stake in a key subsidiary of ByteDance, the Beijing-based parent company of TikTok. – Reuters  

China has set a new annual record for military flights around Taiwan, buzzing the island’s air force radars with nearly 400 planes since the start of the year. – Newsweek 

Chris Buckley and Steven Lee Myers write: For China, a lot is at stake. If the Taliban victory leads to a surge of regional instability, it could disrupt China’s “Belt and Road” program to finance and build infrastructure across the region, which has largely sidestepped Afghanistan because of the war. […]Given those concerns, China seems unlikely to move quickly to recognize the Taliban’s seizure of power. – New York Times  

Ruth Pollard writes: China won’t be rushing into Afghanistan any time soon — not to fill the political and security void left by the U.S. and not to expand President Xi Jinping’s flagship Belt and Road project. […]In the long term, China wants Xinjiang to be a prosperous and stable neighborhood, and for that, there cannot be instability in their backyard. But with the Taliban back in power, instability is all there is. – Bloomberg  


Police in Thailand used water cannon to break up a demonstration at the national police headquarters on Tuesday, a day after clashes during which a young protester was left in a coma with a bullet lodged in his head. – Reuters 

China’s top legislature will discuss on Friday the possible extension to Hong Kong of an anti-sanctions law, local media TVB News quoted National People’s Congress Standing Committee delegate Tam Yiu-chung as saying. – Reuters 

Hong Kong police said on Wednesday four students were arrested for “advocating terrorism” after their student union passed a motion last month mourning the death of a 50-year-old who stabbed a policeman before killing himself. – Reuters 

The death toll as a result of Myanmar’s Feb. 1 coup topped 1,000 on Wednesday, according to an official of the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners (AAPP) activist group, which has been recording killings by security forces. – Reuters 

Malaysia’s king called for an end to political bickering at a meeting Tuesday with party leaders as he began the process of selecting a new prime minister amid a worsening coronavirus outbreak. – Associated Press 

The U.S. has said it remains committed to Taiwan and other allies, pushing back at concerns about its resolve after its departure from Afghanistan led to the Taliban taking over Kabul. – Bloomberg 

Editorial: Taiwan’s government is far more advanced than the fragile state the U.S. stood up in Kabul. Many in the Biden Administration who were willing to abandon Afghanistan to the Taliban may be more committed to U.S. allies in the Western Pacific. But as Beijing watches the U.S. retreat in Kabul, it might miss that message—especially as the Administration proposes a stagnant defense budget despite rising threats. If China’s Communist Party perceives that the U.S. won’t “interfere” to protect its allies in the Pacific, the world will soon be a far more dangerous place. – Wall Street Journal 

Joseph Bosco writes: Despite Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s assurance that “America’s commitment to Taiwan will remain rock-solid,” the statements of other administration officials, rather than edging toward greater clarity, are in danger of veering into strategic incoherence. […] The need is even more critical after Biden’s callous and calamitous abandonment of Afghanistan in stark violation of his administration’s professed commitment to human rights and multilateralism. China’s propaganda outlet, the Global Times, put this question, “Is this some kind of omen of Taiwan’s future fate?” The need for U.S. strategic clarity has never been more urgent. – The Hill  

Michael Rubin writes: The question then becomes how to enable Taiwan’s nuclearization without precipitating a preemptive Chinese strike. At this point, Taiwan would need off-the-shelf weapons, which are easy enough to provide with regular air links. The U.S. Navy would also have to enhance its presence in the region to be a deterrent as Taiwan prepares to announce its capability. Biden may believe he has ended “forever wars,” but the reality is his team has just upended decades of security calculations, not only in Afghanistan but also elsewhere. Make no mistake: Taiwan’s freedom is at stake. – Washington Examiner 

Jason Bartlett writes: As the North Korean regime continues to launch disinformation campaigns abroad via online platforms, national governments and media outlets which value information integrity must remain vigilant to protect their users by continuing to flag, remove, and block the spread of false information and state-sponsored propaganda. – The Diplomat 


In the wake of the Taliban’s lightning takeover of Afghanistan, Russian officials moved quickly into a two-pronged approach: cautiously reaching out to the Taliban even as Russia expanded military exercises with Tajikistan along the Afghan border. – Washington Post  

A Moscow court on Tuesday fined Alphabet Inc’s Google (GOOGL.O) a total of 14 million roubles ($190,398) for violating Russian rules on banned content, the penalty coming amid a wider stand-off between Russia and Big Tech companies. – Reuters  

A Russian prototype military transport plane crashed while performing a test flight outside Moscow on Tuesday, killing all three crew members on board, Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation said. – Associated Press  

Catherine Hodgson, Will Baumgardner, and Mason Clark write: The Russian National Guard (Rosgvardia) demonstrated new capabilities and readiness during its first-ever operational-strategic exercise from July 12 to 30. Rosgvardia conducted Zaslon-2021 as a nationwide exercise and readiness check of its full spectrum of capabilities, not a localized exercise as it originally claimed. – Institute for the Study of War 


Czech President Milos Zeman said NATO had failed in Afghanistan and its legitimacy was in question, as he called for his country to focus to national defence rather than “wasting money” on the alliance. – Reuters 

U.S. President Joe Biden spoke with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday on the situation in Afghanistan and they agreed to hold a virtual G7 leaders’ meeting next week to discuss a common strategy and approach, the White House said. – Reuters 

Péter Krekó writes: So is the LGBT issue simply another milestone on the populist road? It’s actually more important than that. First: this is the first time that the government has organized a campaign against a group of its own citizens. Second, its shows the weakness of the regime: in to order keep control of the political agenda, Orbán is using large amounts of political ammunition, risks permanently losing EU funds, and further. – Center for European Policy Analysis 


Uganda said on Tuesday it had agreed to a request from the United States to take in temporarily 2,000 refugees from Afghanistan fleeing after the Taliban takeover. – Reuters 

Unidentified armed men have killed 37 civilians, including 14 children, in an attack on a village in southwest Niger, according to internal security service memos and a local official. – Reuters 

Gunmen killed a police officer and six employees of a Nigerian oil and gas services contractor during an attack on buses transporting workers to a Shell project site in the southeastern state of Imo, police said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

The Americas

A U.S. businessman was charged with sanctions violations and money laundering for allegedly helping Venezuela’s military repair aircraft, according to a complaint filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida. – Reuters 

Freed Venezuelan opposition leader Freddy Guevara said on Tuesday he is willing to participate in political negotiations with President Nicolas Maduro’s government, but is still waiting for opposition parties to decide on the issue. – Reuters 

Cuba has revoked the right to home detention of leading dissident Jose Daniel Ferrer and ordered him to serve the remaining 4 years of a sentence for assault in prison, sparking criticism that the order was politically motivated. – Reuters 

The three-week-old administration of Peru’s President Pedro Castillo lost one of its most controversial figures on Tuesday after the foreign affairs minister quit, denounced for spreading wild conspiracy theories. – Bloomberg 


Twitter on Tuesday announced a new feature to allow users to flag content that could contain misinformation, a scourge that has only grown during the pandemic. – Agence-France Presse  

Katherine Hille writes: Washington’s efforts to destroy the Chinese technology group appear to be working: Huawei’s revenues are in free fall, the premium smartphones it launched in late July do not work for 5G, and it is forced to sell off parts of its business. […]In fact, among hundreds of Chinese technology companies which the US Department of Commerce has targeted with sanctions, Huawei is the only one fighting for its life. – Financial Times  

Tajah McCray writes: As the use of technology and cyber-attacks increases, India and the United States must renew and strengthen the framework for the U.S-India cyber relationship, especially since both nations face common cyber threats that often come from common sources. – Center for Strategic and International Studies 


The global defense trade show circuit was expected to make a full comeback this year after a coronavirus hiatus. That is, until the fast-spreading delta variant started sowing fresh doubts on which events will take place and in what format. – Defense News 

Kendall, a former Pentagon acquisition chief who is well-acquainted with the world of military technology, immediately immersed himself in the Air Force’s fiscal 2023 budget and directed a number of last-minute adjustments to the plan. – Defense News    

The new director of the Army’s Network Cross-Functional Team has experienced the frontline frustrations of not being able to share data with partners from his stints with U.S. Central Command and in the Indo-Pacific. – C4ISRNET  

Becca Wasser writes: But there are times in which other instruments of power, particularly diplomacy, may do a better job of protecting U.S. interests, or it is simply best to do nothing. As such, the Biden administration should think twice before calling for airstrikes and should preserve military power for when it is truly needed. – War on the Rocks