Now or Never: America is on the Clock to Remove Troops from Afghanistan


Now or Never: America is on the Clock to Remove Troops from Afghanistan

Using U.S. leverage to craft an Afghan settlement demands incredible deftness in both Washington and Kabul.

This would be a tragic mistake in a long series of tragic mistakes. The negotiation underway now was available on better terms in 2011 and 2012. The United States had more leverage then, and the Obama administration better organized to use it. How many people have lost their lives in the meantime? More than five hundred five hundred U.S. and coalition soldiers and tens of thousands of Afghan civilians. According to Ghani, forty-five thousand Afghan soldiers and police officers have died since 2014.


As a whole, the U.S. government was happier with the risks of the status quo, of the forever war, than with the risks of a peace process, and so direct U.S.-Taliban dialogue on the core issues of the conflict was never broached during the Obama Administration.

A lot can go wrong in peace negotiations, and the best outcomes are far from ideal, but there is a way to end this longest of wars so that U.S. security interests are met and Afghanistan can develop—slowly and haltingly, no doubt, but with less violence.

Ambassador Bill Burns has written about “indiscipline” in the use of American power, and of a long-term, dangerous willingness to treat diplomacy as an “afterthought.” Afghanistan is a blood-soaked example.

Jarrett Blanc is a senior fellow in the Geoeconomics and Strategy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He was previously the deputy lead coordinator and State Department coordinator for Iran nuclear implementation at the U.S. Department of State under Obama, responsible for the full and effective implementation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on Iran’s nuclear program, including Iranian and U.S. commitments on sanctions.

Image: Reuters