The issue in Afghanistan is not America’s presence but its shortcomings on policy on the region. It just can’t be all about sending thousands of soldiers and funding NGO’s. State-building requires some sort of policy objective lead by the leaders. In the case of Afghanistan, the Taliban and militant extremists such as the Haqqani network are undoubtedly causing most of the security concerns. Mostly through suicide bombers and ambushes in remote parts of the country and the larger cities. These groups are operating freely in Waziristan area (Pakistan) neighbouring Afghanistan with the help of Pakistani Intelligence agency, the ISI. Therefore would it not be reasonable to have a chat with Pakistani leaders to help bring a political solution to bring peace? There are reasons why the Pakistani leaders are supporting the Taliban and Haqqani network of which the Americans should explore. The question America at this point needs to ask itself is will it really risk all that they have done for Afghanistan, all the lives and resources spent in Afghanistan to continue to step back on Pakistan?
When Obama took office, one of the campaign promises that appealed to many Americans was to end the Iraq and Afghan war. Both wars became lengthy and the American public became disenfranchised because strategies were ever-changing and causalities were ever-growing. But why shouldn’t they be fed up? Iraq is a mess, the government of Iraq barely exists, the nation is made up of militias and the new threat of ISIS ascertains that Iraq will never be the same again. Also fuels the argument, the resources and lives were squandered in Iraq did not bring the result we all wanted. Yes Saddam Hussein is gone, but on the other hand ISIS is proving to the world they are uncontainable.
Afghanistan a nation that has somewhat of a strong central government became inessential. America overthrowing the brutal Taliban regime was a success story and the rebuilding process of Afghanistan initiated and the world was committed to it. Afghanistan went from an opaque state to a country with many opportunities now. However the last few years and now the gradual troop draw down is emanating security concerns. There is no doubt without western intervention the Taliban regime would not be possible to overthrow. I believe Afghans are very much thankful that the Taliban are no longer in power. They are also thankful they have tasted freedom and we have seen glimpses of an exuberant Afghanistan evolving from a war torn state to peaceful state ready to take the next step in development.
Unfortunately Afghanistan is still heavily reliant on donations and NGO’s which abates most of their foreign policy motives. In the world of global politics there are no zero-sum political battles and Afghanistan is at this point a subordinate, therefore will always lose these battles. We are witnessing the results of losing such battles, the constant attacks by the Taliban and Haqqani network.
A political resolution on Pakistan’s interest in the region is needed and should be led by the American government, if not Pakistan will continue to support their proxies in Afghanistan. This will enable the government in Kabul to become weaker and lead to another failed state. Although the Afghan army has impressed on many fronts, the donations will dry up and the army will become at some point hit a breaking point. Then another civil war will surmise and the Taliban regaining power, giving the world another safe haven for global terrorists. The same mistake was done by the American government during the early 90s, they stepped back after the Soviets retreated Afghanistan. The result was Pakistan took the leading role and installed the vicious Taliban government. Although this time around America and international community took the one step forward on rebuilding Afghanistan, but by not taking policy measures, it could mean taking two steps back.
America should not step back on Afghanistan and should engage in a strong political resolution for the sake of Afghanistan and its resources expended in Afghanistan. This is not about sending more troops or spending more money, just more political dialogue and entering a regional consensus regarding Afghanistan. Being a landlocked supports the latter because of Afghanistan’s dependency on its neighbours.