On April 16, Foreign Policy published a biweekly column featuring Scowcroft Center deputy director Matthew Kroenig and New American Engagement Initiative senior fellow Emma Ashford discussing the latest news in international affairs.
In this column, they discuss Biden’s plan to withdraw all US forces from Afghanistan by September 11, the significance of Russia military buildup on the border with Ukraine, and the implications of an attack on an Iranian nuclear facility, reportedly by Israel.
Look, the bottom line is that the United States accomplished what it went to Afghanistan to do. Al Qaeda was evicted, the 2001 Taliban government was smashed, and Washington made the point that no one attacks the United States with impunity. That was all achieved by about 2003. Everything since then has been an expansion of the original goals, and it’s simply not necessary for U.S. security.
There is nothing wrong with a permanent presence. The costs of staying are low, and the potential costs of leaving are higher. The original goal was to remove the Taliban government, but if U.S. forces leave, there is a reasonable chance the Taliban will return to power in Kabul.