Afghanistan may be a mess if US troops leave; they should leave anyway. Trump is right.

| Jan 23, 2019

The war in Afghanistan has become a multigenerational exercise in absurdity. Many of the soldiers now fighting were in diapers when the war began.

By Mark Hannah

This article appeared in USA Today on January 23, 2019. It includes references to the Eurasia Group Foundation, now known as the Institute for Global Affairs.

When President Donald Trump announced that he would be withdrawing half of the US troops serving in Afghanistan, the national security establishment was aghast. Afghanistan will become a failed state! The Taliban will expand their power! Chaos and disorder will follow! The critics might be right. The president should follow through anyway. 

Aware the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable, Trump nevertheless now dithers. He is being pressured by military leaders who understandably want their sacrifices to have achieved something. And he is selfishly concerned with being blamed if the government in Kabul collapses on his watch.

But letting the Afghanistan War “muddle along” for so many years has been a grievous mistake. Roughly 2,400 US service members and 4,000 American contractors have been killed there, including four just over Thanksgiving. As my old boss, John Kerry, asked a Senate committee in 1971, after returning from that other quagmire in Vietnam, “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?”

The war in Afghanistan has become a multigenerational exercise in absurdity. Many of the soldiers now fighting and dying were in diapers when the war began. Yet almost two decades and more than a trillion dollars later, the US-backed Afghan government controls only 55 percent of the nation’s territory and 65 percent of its population.

Read more of this article in USA Today

Written by Mark Hannah

Mark is a senior fellow with the Independent America project at the Institute for Global Affairs and the host of its podcast, None Of The Above.

Read more from Mark

This post is part of Independent America, a research project led out by IGA senior fellow Mark Hannah, which seeks to explore how US foreign policy could better be tailored to new global realities and to the preferences of American voters.

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