Prudence, Not Isolationism: Time to Leave Afghanistan

The time has come for the United States to completely pull out of Afghanistan. Since 2001, we have been engaged in a no-win war against the Taliban. From the outset, the invasion was a catastrophe. We did not take advantage of opportunities to kill Osama bin Laden, we engaged in nation building, and we propped up an incompetent and corrupt regime led by Hamid Karzai. The situation has continued to deteriorate over the past few years, and this will only continue.

This is not the fault of the current president, for this would have occurred regardless of who was president at the time. It was inevitable that radical Islamists would eventually retake territory that they had lost in 2001.

At the moment, we are observing the slow collapse of the Afghan government, as town after town is taken over by the Taliban. Even the Islamic State is making headway along the Pakistani border as they grow by the day. Why are radical Islamists popular among the civilian population? They are not corrupt. Meanwhile the current regime is rotten to the core in corruption, and we cannot expect this will change anytime soon. The United States is backing a corrupt system which will be overthrown in due course.

How do we counter this? Not having any soldiers or government officials in the country is a start. It is time to pull everyone out, including our ambassador. This administration, in fact, promised Americans that we would completely withdraw from Afghanistan. At the current pace, it is only a matter of years before Kabul falls to the Taliban, and that is with NATO forces in the country. The last thing we need is another hostage situation like we had in Iran after the fall of the Shah.

To combat the Islamic State, drones should be used whenever possible, but we must not have any special forces on the ground. We are better off letting the conflicts unfold. Why? Simply due to the fact that the conflicts in the Middle East and Central Asia are starting to resemble that of the Thirty Years’ War in Europe. Numerous tribes waging war against one another, civil unrest, refugees, famine, and a deteriorating standard of living are all similar factors to what Europe experienced in the seventeenth century. The United States must step back and let these conflicts sort themselves out unless we wish to be caught in the bloodbath.

Some would call this isolationist, but I call it common sense. The more than $1 trillion we have spent in Afghanistan is a drain on our economy. It may benefit those who manufacture arms, but it does not benefit the American citizenry. Not surprisingly, most Americans are unaware of what is occurring in Afghanistan. Should we really waste their tax dollars on what seems to be a never ending conflict in a region which will never know peace?

Afghanistan is just one of many Islamic countries on the brink of collapse. Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Somalia, and Libya  hardly have governments that control a significant amount of the territory within their own borders. The situation will only get worse in all of these nations as warring tribes, jihadists, sects, and governments fight over land and religion. It is time for a fortress America. We must protect our homeland, and stop propping up and toppling regimes in a region where the overwhelming majority of the population does not embrace Western values. It is time we permanently leave before it is too late.

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