August 09, 2019

The U.S. Abandoned Iraq. Don’t Repeat History in Afghanistan

By David H. Petraeus and Vance Serchuk

The announcement of a peace agreement between the U.S. and the Taliban is said to be imminent, after years of combat and months of negotiation. The U.S. will reportedly promise to reduce its military presence in Afghanistan in exchange for a Taliban commitment to cooperate against international terrorism and enter direct talks with the Afghan government.

For Americans as well as Afghans, any possibility of settling this conflict is cause for hope. But even as citizens in both countries pray for peace, leaders in Washington must proceed with caution. While diplomatic progress with the Taliban may justify a reduction in U.S. force levels, under no circumstances should the Trump administration repeat the mistake its predecessor made in Iraq and agree to a total withdrawal of combat forces from Afghanistan.

A complete military exit from Afghanistan today would be even more ill-advised and risky than the Obama administration’s disengagement from Iraq in 2011. Iraq had largely been stabilized by the time the last U.S. combat elements left, with al Qaeda having been routed during the 2007 surge. In Afghanistan, by contrast, the Taliban are far from defeated, while some 20 foreign terrorist organizations like al Qaeda and ISIS retain a presence in the region. It is unlikely that any will join a peace deal.

Read the full article in The Wall Street Journal.

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