President Barack Obama announced last week the withdrawal of 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year and 23,000 more by the end of summer 2012, followed by further reductions leading to a complete withdrawal of U.S. troops by 2014.
Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 1989; the Marxist regime Moscow had been supporting fell in 1992. The Taliban seized control of Kabul — and most of Afghanistan — in 1996. Will a similar progression occur in Afghanistan following the withdrawal of the U.S.
After Soviet forces withdrew from Afghanistan in 1988-89, the regime it was defending there fell. This experience contributes to present fears that, if America withdraws from Afghanistan, the regime it is defending will also fall.
Many fear (and many others hope) that American withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan will lead to a takeover of these two countries by radical Islamic forces, who will then be in a stronger position to spread to neighboring countries. The U.S.
Whatever the strengths and weaknesses of the Obama strategy toward the “War on Terror,” one aspect of it is now clear: the President is determined to withdraw American forces both from Iraq and from Afghanistan. American combat forces have already left Iraq.
As in Iraq, the United States and its allies did achieve some important successes in Afghanistan. Not only was the Taliban regime driven from power after just a couple of months from the launch of the U.S.-led intervention in October 2001, but this was done with fewer than 3,000 U.S. troops.
Absent the 9/11 attacks and the George W. Bush administration’s reaction to them, the War on Terror may not have come into existence in the way that it has. There certainly would have been Islamic radicalism as well as clashes between it and Western governments.