Zakaria: Biden is Right. It’s Time to End the Forever War in Afghanistan.
“To govern is to choose,” a French prime minister once said, and this week, President Biden made a difficult strategic choice. He announced a timeline for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, 20 years after they arrived. For several years, the United States had been unwilling to make a choice in Afghanistan, settling into a policy that was more a punt than a strategy. Biden should be commended for actually making a hard choice and not kicking the can down the road one more time.
Was it the right choice? I believe so. Let’s recall that the United States has tried virtually every possible approach in Afghanistan. Initially, after 9/11, it went in with a light footprint, allying with local forces. After a few years, that strategy was seen as flawed by giving the Taliban the opportunity to regroup. Under President Barack Obama, Washington expanded coalition forces so that, at their peak, they numbered around 130,000. They attempted a comprehensive counterinsurgency policy — namely, to provide safety and win the hearts and minds of the locals.