Expert Zone

Straight from the Specialists

Obama’s hasty Afghanistan withdrawal risks squandering gains

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(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

U.S. military commanders on the ground in Afghanistan had reportedly requested a slower pace of withdrawal to afford them the opportunity to consolidate recent gains against Taliban insurgents.  President Obama has denied his military commanders flexibility to determine the pace and scope of withdrawal based on conditions on the ground, and instead appears to have based his decision largely around the U.S. domestic political calendar.

The plan for rapidly withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan also risks upending the major achievement of eliminating Osama bin Laden across the border in Pakistan.

Bin Laden’s death and an aggressive drone campaign in Pakistan’s tribal border areas have put al Qaeda on its back foot.  The administration deserves credit for accomplishing this crucial objective, but it is short-sighted to use bin Laden’s death as justification for hastening the U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan.

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