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Exiting Afghanistan

Exiting Afghanistan

Following 9/11, the United States was right to target Al-Qaeda and the Taliban government which harbored them—that was a justified, achievable mission. After a swift victory and the establishment of a new, popular Afghan government, policymakers should have removed U.S. troops. Instead, Washington pursued a nation-building effort to establish a central authority to govern all of Afghanistan—a goal unrelated to the core security interests that justified the initial campaign and impossible to achieve at reasonable cost. After nearly 18 years of war and our key goals accomplished long ago, it is past time to withdraw all U.S. forces to focus on vital national security interests.

U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan—with or without an agreement

U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan—with or without an agreement

The U.S. was right to punish and deter Al-Qaeda and the Taliban for harboring them following 9/11. But after swift victory, Washington transformed the mission to an unnecessary, costly nation-building effort. The outlines of a U.S.-Taliban agreement rest on four pillars: (1) the Taliban renounce Al-Qaeda and all terrorists, (2) a cease-fire covering all parties, (3) the Taliban agree to negotiate with the Afghan government, and (4) the U.S. military will draw down its forces. But only a full withdrawal is necessary for U.S. security, and that requires no agreement with the Taliban.

Securing U.S. interests while avoiding a war with Iran

Securing U.S. interests while avoiding a war with Iran

Like most Middle East nations, Iran is guilty of malign behavior—but it is weak, regionally isolated, and unable to meaningfully project power. Its undesirable local activities pose no direct threat to the United States, and it lacks the capability to cause significant disruptions to the flow of oil. The threat Iran does pose is easily checked by its more powerful neighbors. “Maximum pressure” is a risky strategy that could provoke a war instead of negotiations. Normalizing relations with Iran would enhance U.S. security, extricate the U.S. from the region’s disputes, and avoid a potentially catastrophic war.