Foreign and Defense Policy, AfPak

Obama’s ‘zero option’ in Afghanistan is a recipe for disaster

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Image Credit: Shutterstock

The New York Times reports that President Obama is “giving serious consideration” to pulling out all US troops from Afghanistan next year because of growing tension with Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Suspicious of direct US-Taliban talks in Qatar, Kabul last month suspended planned negotiations with Washington over a Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) that lays out a legal framework for a residual American military presence in Afghanistan after 2014.

Let’s hope that this is a pressure tactic used by the administration to increase its leverage with Kabul in the negotiation process. But given President Obama’s rush to exit from Afghanistan and his track record in Iraq, it appears to be déjà vu all over again.

A premature US pullout from Iraq proved disastrous: the country is sliding back into chaos; al Qaeda has made a comeback; and Iran has emerged as the most influential player in post-Saddam Iraq. But the consequences of an abrupt withdrawal from Afghanistan are likely to be much worse. A complete pullout next year would put at risk all security gains the US and its allies have made against al Qaeda and its affiliates in South Asia in the past 11 years. Afghanistan could revert to a pre-9/11 situation.

As I wrote on CNN GPS earlier this year, the US needs a significant military presence in Afghanistan beyond 2014 to achieve four principal objectives: 1) to send a strong message to friends and enemies in the region that the US is not abandoning Afghanistan; 2) to continue to assist and advise Afghan security forces until they are self-sufficient; 3) to conduct unilateral counterterrorism operations in remote Afghan provinces to further weaken al Qaeda and associated forces and prevent them from reconstituting in parts of the country; and 4) to keep a check on the growing terrorism threat emanating from Pakistan. The success of drone strikes against al Qaeda and its affiliates in Pakistan largely depends on military and intelligence assets in Afghanistan. A complete withdrawal means the US will no longer be able to conduct counterterrorism in South Asia effectively.

14 thoughts on “Obama’s ‘zero option’ in Afghanistan is a recipe for disaster

  1. This is so true of the chaos. This is very typical of the U.S. pulling out of a country after creating much chaos. You think we would have learned from the Marshal plan as then the U.S. did everything correct on rebuilding and sustaining order. Ever since then the U.S. has gone into a country and then pulled out leaving the country in chaos. No wonder why these people would hate the Americans. I sure would.

    • I think that you are confused. The countries that got the most aid from the Marshall Plan bureaucracy did not do as well as those that got far less and were left alone. The US should leave Afghanistan because it never should have occupied Afghanistan in the first place. You don’t kill and maim thousands of your military and waste $1 trillion just because you are afraid of 150 people hiding in caves because when you are so thoughtless that you waste resources that should be used to benefit American taxpayers and consumers you are doing the work of America’s enemies.

  2. If Obama was ready to accept failure and leave, why did he triple the number of troops there? At least, he should be honest to Americans by admitting defeat. But he doesn’t do that. He tells lies to cover up his failure.

  3. Obama has lied to the American people from his first election up to today. Why is it that you and the media still believe anything he says? Or better still, why do you even communicate what he tells you? Befuddled.

    • I would argue that all mainstream politicians lie almost all of the time. That is how they get elected. Obama claimed to favour peace while he waged war. Bush claimed to be a conservative while he grew the size of government more rapidly than most Democratic Party presidential candidates could have hoped for. Why expect honesty when voters vote for those that tell them lies?

      • When did you hear Bush lie? And why when we call out the bozo we have in the White House, do you invoke the name of Bush. Obama is the all that is evil in Washington and once all the flagellation about slavery is over America may wake up. Do you want to even begin to compare a true American family with the likes of Obama? Ugh!

        • When did you hear Bush lie?

          Any time he talked about Iraq’s connection to 9/11.

          Any time he said that he was a conservative.

          Any time he talked about the economy and how he favoured small government.

        • And why when we call out the bozo we have in the White House, do you invoke the name of Bush.

          Because they are the same guy.

        • Obama is the all that is evil in Washington and once all the flagellation about slavery is over America may wake up.</b.

          I do not disagree. But you could just have easily written, "Bush is the all that is evil in Washington and once all the fear about Islam is over America may wake up."

        • Do you want to even begin to compare a true American family with the likes of Obama? Ugh!</b.

          What is a 'true' American family? The last time I looked most Americans favoured getting out of Afghanistan and getting out of Iraq. I do not think that you can speak for them.

          • I am not pretending to be American. I only point out that you can’t be talking about the monolithic ‘American Family’ as if there were such an institution. As I pointed out, the polls have the majority of Americans favour getting out of Afghanistan. I do not have to be American to write about that fact. And the fact that you may be American does not mean that you are typical or can speak on behalf of others.

        • When did Bush lie? Well, when his lips moved but also when he said, “All of the votes in Florida have been counted and recounted.” That set the tone for the next eight years…

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