Afghanistan Options: Leave, Increase, Stand Pat, or Cut Back? By Bing West - Hoover Institution
After 17 years on a treadmill, obviously no good option exists. But to pull out our troops would be to repeat Saigon in 1975. The consequences to America’s credibility would be crushing. Unlike in the Vietnam case, no domestic political movement is dedicated to insuring a total, humiliating withdrawal. Conversely, no American power center, bureaucratic or political, is lobbying to increase our force numbers.
Similarly, no influential groups are lobbying to cut back at this time in our domestic electoral cycle. Our casualties are low, few American journalists remain in Afghanistan, and our expenditures there are small in comparison to our gargantuan appetite to spend money our children will have to repay.
So, at least until the next American presidential election, we will stand pat in Afghanistan. A stalemate is likely to continue for the next several years. Our electronic and overhead intelligence, coupled with our air and artillery, will attrite the Taliban whenever they mass. The Taliban are mostly Pashto, and the Afghan National Army is mostly non-Pashto. ANA soldiers lack the spirit and incentive to patrol in small numbers in the rural areas. So we are deploying advisers to patrol with the ANA soldiers. This will insure a modest improvement. In the net, the Taliban are too weak to seize the cities and too tenacious to be driven from the countryside along the Pakistan border…