June 17, 2014

Learning From Iraq to Prepare for Afghanistan’s Post-2016 Future

By Richard Weitz

In a revealing quirk of history, the crisis in Iraq caused by the sudden onslaught of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) can help us better understand possible scenarios for Afghanistan moving forward. Despite their many differences, both countries are exposing the consequences of America’s decreased leverage combined with the rising but often mutually competing influence of other powers.

Notwithstanding the desire of both Iraqi and U.S. leaders to keep U.S. forces in Iraq beyond 2011 in order to train and equip Iraq’s still developing security forces, domestic political opposition in both countries combined with flawed diplomatic negotiations led to a complete U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq at the end of that year.

For a while the outcome seemed acceptable, but in recent months the spillover from the war in neighboring Syria into Iraq combined with the misguided political leadership in Baghdad led to increasing political polarization and growing sectarian-fueled terrorist violence. This process, not always visible in Washington, has now culminated in a full-scale civil war that threatens to be as violent as the one in neighboring Syria.

Read the full piece at World Politics Review.

  • Commentary
    • September 20, 2022
    International Community Must Do More to Protect Human Rights in Afghanistan

    Human rights in Afghanistan, especially those of women and girls, have deteriorated sharply during the first year of Taliban rule. The very real prospect of losing a generatio...

    By Lisa Curtis, Annie Pforzheimer & Jan Mohammad Jahid

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Affairs
    • September 19, 2022
    Time to Get Tough on the Taliban

    As Washington reduces its diplomatic engagement with the Taliban, it should also focus on finding creative ways to support Afghan civil society...

    By Lisa Curtis & Nader Nadery

  • Video
    • August 15, 2022
    Reflecting on the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, one year later

    A year ago today, U.S. troops withdrew from Kabul and Afghans scrambled to escape as the Taliban took control. Retired U.S. Army Colonel Chris Kolenda joins CBS News to discus...

    By Christopher D. Kolenda

  • Commentary
    • Foreign Policy
    • August 15, 2022
    Why No One Was in Charge in Afghanistan

    On the first anniversary of the meltdown of Afghanistan, one of the best ways for the United States to respect the service and sacrifice of Americans and Afghans is to learn f...

    By Christopher D. Kolenda

View All Reports View All Articles & Multimedia