Exit Afghanistan?

In his victory speech to a rapturous crowd in Chicago following his reelection, President Barack Obama affirmed that America’s “decade-long conflict” in Afghanistan will end in 2014. In fact, withdrawal is Western politicians’ prime objective in the region: the West needs to get out before the bloodletting starts again.

NEW DELHI – In his victory speech to a rapturous crowd in Chicago following his reelection, President Barack Obama affirmed that America’s “decade-long conflict” in Afghanistan will now end. The line was greeted with prolonged applause – and understandably so. In fact, this ill-advised war – launched on the basis of a United Nations Security Council resolution – has been grinding on for 11 years, making it the longest in American history.

At the beginning, the war was aimed at eliminating Al Qaeda, vanquishing the Taliban, and transforming Afghanistan into something resembling a Western-style nation-state. With none of these goals fully achieved, America’s intervention – like every other intervention in Afghanistan’s history – is ending unsatisfactorily.

As the curtain drops, two developments will greatly influence the withdrawal process and the ultimate outcome. The first is the management of the transition to Afghan control, which depends on an orderly withdrawal of American and NATO forces by 2014. The second is the election, also to be held in 2014, of a new Afghan president – a process that needs to permit the United States and its NATO allies to claim plausibly that they are handing the country over to a legitimate government.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.

Subscribe

Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.

http://prosyn.org/s3w5iE5;

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated cookie policy and privacy policy.