Small Wars Journal

The Risk to the U.S. in Abandoning Afghanistan

The Risk to the U.S. in Abandoning Afghanistan - Chicago Tribune Editorial

… So why is America still in Afghanistan? Because the terror groups operating there would have the unfettered ability to again thrive if the U.S. were to withdraw the last of its troops. That answer won’t mollify critics of U.S. policy in Afghanistan during three presidencies. But remember, each of those presidents came to understand the terrible risks a U.S. pullout would create.

We say this acknowledging that there is no end in sight to the longest-running war in U.S. history. Taliban insurgents continue to expand their reach, particularly in the south. Their ambushes and suicide bomb attacks have decimated the ranks of the Afghan military and police.

The Islamic State has staked out a presence in the country.

And al-Qaida, which had all but disappeared from the battlefield, is back on the scene — as evidenced by the firefight that killed the Army Ranger earlier this month.

It all points to a bleak outlook. But that outlook would quickly grow bleaker if the U.S. withdrew from the country its remaining contingent of about 14,000 troops.

The Afghan government, led by President Ashraf Ghani, is too inept, corrupt and fractured to have any realistic chance of defeating the Taliban on its own. The war’s casualty count for Afghan forces totals 28,529 killed since 2015 as of Wednesday. That’s about 25 Afghan troops killed every day.

The mission for American soldiers now in Afghanistan is to advise, train and equip Afghan front-line forces battling the Taliban, Islamic State and al-Qaida, and to carry out counterterrorism missions against those groups. It’s hard to imagine the Afghan government and military enduring without America’s helping hand.

And if Kabul fell?

The prospect of Afghanistan becoming a rogue state would be all too real. What’s now a largely dysfunctional state again would function as an ideal training ground for terrorists bent on launching attacks on the U.S., Europe and beyond. The world saw in the Middle East what happened when then-President Barack Obama withdrew troops from Iraq, and hemmed and hawed in Syria. The Islamic State emerged, taking over much of northern Iraq and northern Syria and using its newfound territory for instigating terror on the West…

Read on.