The options for U.S. withdrawal in Afghanistan? Either a bad deal or no deal at all

By Gil Barndollar

After almost 18 years of war, the United States may finally be on the verge of withdrawing from Afghanistan.

Opponents of an Afghan withdrawal or even drawdown justifiably point to the clear limits of the proposed deal U.S. envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has negotiated with the Taliban: The Afghan government has been sidelined, a ceasefire could prove transitory and the Taliban could renege on any pledge to renounce Al Qaeda. Yet there is also a clear reason for such an unsatisfactory agreement. Despite nearly two decades of fighting — and overwhelming superiority in manpower, firepower and money — the U.S. has remarkably little leverage in Afghanistan.

The security situation is the worst it has been since the U.S. invasion in 2001. Though the U.S. stopped releasing district stability data this year, independent analysts conclude that the Taliban controls or contests the majority of Afghanistan’s districts.

This piece was originally published by The Los Angeles Times on August 29, 2019. Read more HERE.