The Skeptics

A New Afghanistan Strategy Must Avoid Perpetual War

Additionally, stubbornly forcing such measures only expands the terror threat and gives our enemies motivation to continue recruiting and radicalizing new coverts. By withdrawing from unwinnable counterinsurgencies, murderous radicals are deprived the opportunity to confront American soldiers in locations where they can travel easily. The motivation for new recruits drops precipitously if their leaders can’t produce on these promises.

Even for those who still desire to fight the United States, their ability to wage war on the American homeland is orders of magnitude more difficult than traveling to Syria. Few will ever succeed in such an undertaking. It is also instructive to realize that there is no shortage of desire on the part of terrorists to come to the United States and launch attacks. The threat of attacks on American soil would not increase if the United States ceased fighting on jihadist’s terms in isolated international locations. The obligation to defend our borders against terror infiltrators remains categorical either way.

Since 2003 the United States has conclusively demonstrated that attempting to “fight them over there” does not make America safer over here. This mentality has only served to increase the terror threat. It is now imperative to try different strategies that take the best of what has worked in the past, and designate achievable end-states whose accomplishment will result in greater security for American citizens here and the nation’s interests abroad.

Daniel L. Davis is a senior fellow for Defense Priorities and a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army who retired in 2015 after twenty-one years, including four combat deployments.

Image: A supporter of Afghan presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah holds an Afghan flag after an election campaign rally in Paghman district of Kabul June 9, 2014. The second round of Afghanistan's presidential election will take place on June 14. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood.