The Week (US)

Biden’s Afghanista­n choices

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David Ignatius

President Biden faces an “agonizing choice” in Afghanista­n, said David Ignatius. Eager to end U.S. troop presence abroad, President Trump agreed to a tentative peace deal with the Taliban to withdraw the remaining 2,500 U.S. troops by May 1. But the Kabul government, headed by President Ashraf Ghani, “may be too corrupt and fragile to survive,” and a total U.S. withdrawal will very likely lead to its fall and a Taliban takeover. Images of the fall of Kabul to celebratin­g Islamist extremists “would embolden jihadists” and re-energize a movement that’s been in retreat, with Afghanista­n once again becoming a safe haven for terrorists. A Taliban takeover would also lead to horrific violations of human rights, particular­ly for the Afghan girls and women, who’ve enjoyed far more freedom since the religious extremists’ regime was toppled in 2001. If Biden decides to stay, it will trigger new Taliban attacks on our forces. The Pentagon may argue that the cost of “keeping a small but sustainabl­e force in Afghanista­n” is well worth it. But it will be Biden’s burden to explain why the sacrifice is necessary—and to write a letter of condolence to the family of “the first American who dies on his watch in this terrible war.”

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