“(They were) certainly not in (Americans’) interests and perhaps in no one’s interests” Michael Aaron Rockland added in an interview with IQNA.
Michael Aaron Rockland is a prolific writer and a Professor of American Studies at Rutgers University. Despite the variety of his books and articles, the recurring interests in his writing—whether scholarship, memoir, journalism or fiction—are New Jersey culture and America on the international stage.
Following is the full text of the interview:
IQNA: In recent weeks, we have seen an increase in criticism of US President Joe Biden's government over US withdrawal from Afghanistan and the rise of the Taliban in the country. To what extent can it affect Biden's political future?
Rockland: Well, it's a mixed picture. We went into Afghanistan for one reason: to capture or kill those responsible for the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. The fact that this was turned into a twenty-year war against the Taliban by George W. Bush and subsequent presidents have generally been regarded as a great mistake. The struggle between the Taliban and the rest of the Afghans was a Civil War in which most Americans believe we should never have gotten involved.
I believe most Americans, if not today then soon, will regard Biden's actions as courageous and the end of a disaster. Attitudes towards the younger President Bush to lose sight of why we went to Afghanistan and then to extend our activities into an absolutely unnecessary war in Iraq are almost entirely negative among the American people.
So, if not right away, I believe Biden's actions, certainly after the Afghan army melted away in the face of the Taliban, will be eventually considered necessary if not even heroic.
IQNA: Some believe that Biden's move to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan was a failure of the United States and its policies in the Middle East. What do you think?
Rockland: There is no question that our actions in Afghanistan and Iraq in particular have been a distinct failure--certainly not in our interests and perhaps in no one's interests. While no American was an admirer of Saddam Hussein, his removal has simply emboldened (anti-US forces) to be become more aggressive generally and in Iraq in particular.
But I do not believe that Biden has failed to try, after all these years, to do his best to remedy a terrible situation created by his predecessors, especially George W. Bush. I will be frank: I consider the younger Bush simply stupid. Yes, the United States has failed miserably in parts of the Middle East, but efforts by Biden to remedy a terrible situation, however imperfect, will in the long run be seen as not only necessary but to be applauded.
IQNA: In recent days, there has been talk of a Biden impeachment plan by Republicans. How close can these plans and rumors about the impeachment of the president be to reality?
Rockland: I know of no creditable efforts to impeach Biden. We remain a country largely certain that Donald Trump should not only have been impeached, as he was twice (a record!) but removed from office and declared a criminal.
The January 6 attack on the Congress by his followers, urged on by him, is one of the most serious events to take place in our history and the refusal by most Republicans to insist on a full investigation has left our country in a vulnerable position. Indeed, I would say that our greatest national problem of recent years is the unwillingness of the Republicans to remember that their principal obligation is to the United States of America not to their political party.
Our two major parties used to be not so radically different from one another and able to compromise and work together. I consider the greatest difficulty of the United States today to be the fact that one of our two major parties has become something of a danger to democracy.
IQNA: What do you think is the big problem in the foreign policy of Joe Biden?
Rockland: Well, I see Biden's greatest foreign policy problem as having to lead the country in a sensible direction while being constantly harassed by the Republican Party. And I do not say this as someone who hates the Republican Party.
I have voted Republican on occasion. We have had great Republican leaders, beginning with men like Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt. But today the party seems to see its goal as attaining power and nothing else. Again, I see America's greatest problem as the intransigence of the current Republican Party and the ignorance it fosters.
IQNA: Do you think Biden's administration intends to cooperate more with the Taliban?
Rockland: Well, if the Taliban is going to be the government of Afghanistan, we will have no choice but to cooperate with them where we can and try to modify their extremism especially in their treatment of women and girls. We now know there are even worse people in Afghanistan, a resurgent Al Qaeda and Daesh. It was not the Taliban but Daesh that killed those 13 American soldiers working in the evacuation and the 170 Afghans.
Interview by Mohammad Hassan Goodarzi