The Dangers of a Hasty Retreat from Afghanistan

October 26, 2020 | Noah Rothman
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As U.S.-backed negotiations between the Afghan government and the Taliban continue, and the latter engages in shows of force and deadly attacks, the White House has promised a steep draw down of American troops there. Noah Rothman explains the perils of a precipitous departure:

On Wednesday alone, Taliban forces killed 34 soldiers loyal to Kabul, including a provincial police chief, in overnight attacks in a province bordering Tajikistan. There were two Taliban-linked suicide car bombings in nearby Kandahar province on Wednesday amid sporadic engagements between terrorist elements and Afghan troops. And Lashkargah, the capital of Helmand province, has been host to frequent clashes between Taliban insurgents and government forces, and more than 200 casualties are now attributable to the fighting.

Americans are and have been eager to wash their hands of the seemingly fruitless conflict in Afghanistan, but a rushed withdrawal that is obviously timed for maximum domestic political benefit isn’t strategically sound. . . . Republicans accused Barack Obama of pursuing just such a heedless strategy in Iraq, and they were vindicated when U.S. troops were redeployed to that Middle Eastern country after the Islamic State militia spilled over the Syrian border and rapidly routed the unready Iraqi Security Forces. That should be a sobering legacy even for those who want out of Afghanistan regardless of the country’s security conditions.

The only thing worse than keeping troops in Afghanistan one minute longer would be having to go back at a time and place that is not of our choosing and in response to a grotesque human-rights violation or the revitalization of the transnational terrorist groups who call that country home.

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