US Navy/Lt. j.g. Matthew Stroup
Editor's note: The following article originally appeared in Foreign Policy's "The War Issue" in response to the question: What went wrong in Afghanistan?
President Obama is about to make the worst mistake of the Afghan war, it seems. He appears ready to announce that the United States will keep fewer than 10,000 troops in the country after 2014, a decision tantamount to abandoning Afghanistan and America's interests in South Asia.
The president and his advisors seem to have persuaded themselves that the situation in Afghanistan is fundamentally benign (which is odd, since most Americans think that the situation is hopeless). White House sources claim that the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) are strong enough to maintain security on their own. Some point optimistically to the fact that Soviet puppet Mohammad Najibullah survived for three years after the 1988 Soviet withdrawal.
This argument shows deep ignorance of Afghanistan. Najibullah's reign ended with his body hanging from a crane in the center of Kabul. That image remains a vivid icon of failure and personal catastrophe in Afghan memory. It was followed by a horrific civil war that made Afghanistan an ideal sanctuary for Osama bin Laden. There was no "decent interval," and the results were disastrous for America.
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|Progress in Afghanistan