Afghan Withdrawal would end US global influence and spark backlash against hegemony worldwide
J ALEXANDER THEIR, director for Afghanistan and Pakistan at the U.S. Institute of Peace, 11/30/09, Foreign Policy (Afghanistan is Still Worth the Fight, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2009/11/30/afghanistan_is_still_worth_the_fight)
The final argument that compels continued U.S. engagement in Afghanistan is perhaps the most difficult for Obama to make: failure in Afghanistan will have broad and unpredictable implications for the U.S. role in the world.
The United States and NATO would suffer a credibility crisis if the Taliban and al Qaeda can claim a full military victory in Afghanistan. On the heels of the disastrous U.S. experience in Iraq, the United States risks appearing feckless, unable to accomplish its highest priority national security objectives and perhaps unable to even define them. Where will its allies be willing to follow the United States next? If NATO is similarly unable to sustain commitment to its first-ever declaration of collective action in defense of a member, how will it respond to other challenges in the future?
This is not a question of "saving face"-- the lifespan of al Qaeda and Talibanism will be determined by the perceptions of the region's populations about the strength and righteousness of the militants. In 2001, the Taliban were not just weakened, but discredited. In 2009, will the Taliban be seen as Afghanistan's (and Pakistan's) future?
This malaise is likely to hit the United States at home, as well. Americans will grow increasingly skeptical of their ability to act effectively in the world, to deliver aid, to keep a difficult peace. Whatever happens in Afghanistan,
U.S. engagement in the unstable corners of our world will remain an essential element of our security and prosperity in the next century. In that context, Afghanistan, beset by extremism, conflict, and poverty remains not only important in its own right, but a critical exemplar of the challenges we must meet in the decades to come.
US giving up in Afghanistan would allow Iran, Pakistan, India and Russia to fill the void
The Economist, 6/24/10 (After McCrystal, http://www.economist.com/node/16432784)
This infighting and hesitancy signal a lack of commitment that has drowned out Mr Obama’s warlike rhetoric. That has blighted the war’s chances of success. Too few Afghans and Pakistanis have thrown in their lot with the West, because too many think America has no stomach for the fight. Were so much not at stake, it would be tempting to give up and call the troops home. Yet, although Western leaders have done a poor job at explaining the war in Afghanistan to their voters, a defeat there would be a disaster. The narrow aim of denying al-Qaeda a haven, already frustrated by the terrorists’ scope to lodge in unruly parts of northern Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, would become impossible to achieve. A Western withdrawal would leave Afghanistan vulnerable to a civil war that might suck in the local powers, including Iran, Pakistan, India and Russia. Sooner or later, the poison would end up harming America too: it always does. Defeat in Afghanistan would mark a humiliation for the West, and for NATO, that would give succour to its foes in the world. And do not forget the Afghan people. Having invaded their country, the West has a duty to return it to them in a half-decent state.
It would be idle to harbour such dreams if they were unattainable. Yet, grim as it is, the violence in Afghanistan even now pales beside Iraq at its worst. In the pit of that conflict tens of thousands of people were dying each year, at least ten times more than in Afghanistan today. The ranks of the Afghan army and police force are slowly filling with recruits. There are reasons to think that many Afghans would like to be rid of the Taliban, if only they could believe in an alternative.
US withdrawal leaves power in the Middle East to terrorist organizations and global power retreat
Robert Kagan, member of Council on Foreign Relations, 9/3/09, Post Partisan (Washington Post, Will’s Double Surrender Policy, http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2009/09/wills_double_surrender_policy.html)
It’s hard to imagine a more disastrous blow to vital American security interests than the double surrender George Will is now proposing. To withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan simultaneously would be to abandon American interests and allies in the Persian Gulf and greater Middle East. The consequences of such a retreat would be to shift the balance of influence in the region decidedly away from pro-U.S. forces in the direction of the most radical forces in Tehran, as well as toward al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Taliban, to name just the most prominent beneficiaries. Long-time allies of the United States would either have to accommodate to these radical forces and fall under their sway, or take matters into their own hands. What Will is proposing would constitute the largest strategic setback in American history. At a broader level, these withdrawals would signal to the world a new era of American isolationism. If we are willing to hand over Afghanistan and Iraq to radical terrorist forces, where would we not retreat? Yes, the situations in both Iraq and Afghanistan are difficult. But they are far from unmanageable. Iraq has benefited immensely from the American surge and the political processes it has made possible. Afghanistan is in bad shape, but a concerted effort by our military and civilian forces, as well as by our allies, can produce stability and the possibility of progress with time, as top military leaders, including Gen. Stanley McChrystal, have attested. Will wants us to commit preemptive suicide for fear of being killed. But we need to show some of the patience and fortitude previous generations of Americans have shown, and in far more dire circumstances. We are not in Iraq and Afghanistan today on a lark. The price of our failure would be enormous, both in the region, and, potentially, at home
Withdrawal would be the death-knell to global power and would give emerging powers the chance to take hold
Shahid R. Siddiqi, Pakistani journalist and Fmr. Member of Pakistan’s air force, 4/26/09, Foreign Policy Journal (Obama’s Options in Afghanistan, http://www.foreignpolicyjournal.com/2009/04/26/obamas-options-in-afghanistan/all/1)
Much as President Obama would like to quickly disengage from the ruinous Afghan war, which has come to be characterised as a battle between David and the Goliath, he finds hasty retreat difficult to make. His real dilemma is the spectre of Jihadist threat to American security. He “will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens halfway around the world,” he said. Jihadis, Al Qaeda followers or movement of the Islamic right, whatever you may call them, remain deeply entrenched in Afghanistan’s south and east and in collaboration with Taliban are increasingly gaining ground. Despite universal opposition to continued military involvement, President Obama risks paying dearly if he chooses to fold his tent and return home, no matter how misconceived it was to begin with. The sight of the American military giant limping back home, abandoning the much trumpeted war on terror, could signal American withdrawal from the world stage at a time when its monopoly on power is being challenged by other emerging power centres. This would badly compromise Obama’s ability to wield political and military influence in Europe and elsewhere and give Jihadi movements a shot in the arm.
Withdrawing allows a Taliban takeover that eliminates US power in central Asia
Kuldip Nayar, fmr. Indian delegate to the UN, 7/10/2010, Gulfnews (US withdrawal will suit Taliban, http://gulfnews.com/opinions/columnists/us-withdrawal-will-suit-taliban-1.652230)
For obvious reasons, America plays a crucial role in the region — not only because of the troops it has deployed but also because of the coalition, including the UK and the European Union, that it has put together. Yet President Barack Obama's declaration that the US forces will soon begin withdrawing undermines the fight against the Taliban. How can you fight when you declare beforehand that you will soon quit? The last time America did this, it gave birth to the Taliban government. This time the scenario could be worse because the Taliban have already tasted power. At present, they are lying low and awaiting the departure of the American forces. The Afghanistan government is not viable, nor has its military developed the teeth to thwart the Taliban. The basic question remains unanswered: How to eliminate the Taliban, who have made Afghanistan and parts of Pakistan their playground? They have killed hundreds of Pakistanis. There is no alternative but to eliminate them. India and Pakistan have to develop a joint strategy to fight the Taliban, who are threatening the whole of South Asia. If nothing else, the two countries have to think of ways to fill the vacuum that the withdrawal of American troops will create.
The presence in Afghanistan is the linchpin of current geopolitics
M K Bhadrakumar, was a career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. 10/15/08, The Asia-Pacific Journal (US, Russia, NATO and the Future of Afghanistan: Taliban Resurgence and the Geopolitics of Oil, http://www.japanfocus.org/-M_K-Bhadrakumar/2924)
But what clouds judgment is the geopolitics of the war. The war provided a context for the establishment of a US military presence in Central Asia; NATO's first-ever "out of area" operation; a turf which overlooks the two South Asian nuclear weapon states of India and Pakistan, Iran and China's restive Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region; a useful toehold on a potential transportation route for Caspian energy bypassing Russia and Iran, etc. The situation around Iran; the US's "Great Central Asia" policy and containment strategy towards Russia; NATO's expansion - these have become added factors. Surely, geopolitical considerations lie embedded even within the current attempt to revive the Saudi mediatory role.
Announcing a premature withdrawal date emboldens Pakistan, Russia, Iran, and China to fill the vacuum
Michael Rubin, lecturere at Naval Postgraduate School and John Hopkins, 3/8/2010, Articles and Commentary (American Enterprise Institute, The Afghanistan Withdrawal, http://www.aei.org/article/101753)
The problem with the logic that a firm deadline pressures positively Karzai's government is that it assumes that Washington and Kabul are alone in the sandbox. The fact remains, however, that Karzai has no shortage of potential foreign partners whose outlook may sharply diverge from U.S. interests. Indeed, the reason why Karzai was such an attractive figure at the December 2001 Bonn Conference was he was the one Afghan leader who could talk to all sides. For a short period of time, in the mid-1990s, he had even allied himself with the Taliban. While I certainly agree with Schlesinger that it is important to lever all aspects of U.S. power to nudge Karzai in the right direction, Washington must recognize that Karzai has other options. Obama and Karzai have had a tense relationship dating back to Obama's days as a senator. During a July 2008 trip to Afghanistan, Obama chided Karzai for failure to promote good governance. "I told President Karzai that I thought that he needs to really focus on issues of corruption and counternarcotics and to counter the narcotics trade much more aggressively than has been done so far," Obama said. After winning the Democratic Party's nomination, Obama blasted Karzai in the second presidential debate, declaring, "We have to have a government that is responsive to the Afghan people, and frankly it's just not responsive right now." Shortly before Joe Biden became vice president, a meeting with Karzai grew so tense that Biden stormed out of the meeting. It was in this context that, even before Obama launched his policy review, Karzai began considering other options. Shortly after Obama's victory, Karzai suggested that if the White House did not like his policy--in this case outreach to Mullah Omar--they could simply leave Afghanistan. Likewise, speaking to a visiting United Nations Security Council team, Karzai himself called for a timeline for U.S. withdrawal. When Karzai makes such statements to increase pressure on Washington, it holds that U.S. threats along the same vein backfire. The Pakistan Problem Pakistan, Russia, Iran, and even China are willing to move in at Karzai's invitation and fill any vacuum the U.S. leaves behind. I'm not as sanguine as Schlesinger that any of Afghanistan's neighbors would ever involve themselves positively from a standpoint of U.S. national interests. Pakistani behavior has already changed for the worse as a result of Obama's deadline. Some analysts on Pakistani television pointed out how Obama's deadline would embolden the Taliban, while others said, at the very least, the July 2011 benchmark would lead policymakers to base decisions on an artificial deadline rather than on-the-ground reality. While Pakistani authorities had previously been reluctant to approach the Taliban, after Obama announced the finite U.S. commitment, Pakistan's Army Chief of Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, offered to mediate directly with the Taliban. According to The New York Times, "Pakistani officials familiar with General Kayani's thinking said that even as the United States adds troops to Afghanistan, he has determined that the Americans are looking for a fast exit." A Hasty Exit Obama's deadline for withdrawal snatches defeat from the jaws of victory. He emboldened Afghanistan's adversaries and undermined the chance for U.S. success. His advisers engaged in projection--assuming that adversaries' calculations and thought processes would mirror their own. Rather than pressure Karzai to embrace better governance, with one throw-away line, Obama did the opposite. It is not too late for the President to recognize the psychological aspect of the surge and state clearly that he will settle for nothing less than victory. Unfortunately, until he does, U.S. servicemen on the frontlines will pay the price.
Withdrawal creates a power vacuum emboldening the Taliban Al quidea, and Iran and would allow Russia to regain primacy in the Middle East
Dr. Miklos Radvanyi, Vice President, International Policy at Frontier of Freedom, 11/12/09, Frontiers of Freedom (The Afghanistan Crucible, http://ff.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=478&Itemid=1)
Under these unfavorable circumstances President Obama will definitely opt for a fairly quick exit strategy that he and Congress will disguise as gradual “Afghanization.” In this sense, the focus of his administration will become resolutely parochial and his foreign policy chaotic. For any premature withdrawal from Afghanistan will be interpreted as defeat and will create a power vacuum that necessarily will be filled by even more radical elements than the Taliban and al-Qaeda. The failure in Afghanistan will also definitely embolden the same radical forces in Pakistan that, in turn, will enhance the likelihood of greater conflicts with India. In view of the Obama Administration’s abandonment of Afghanistan, Iran will conclude that the United States will not challenge Tehran’s regional ambitions. The ensuing power vacuum in the Middle East will force the Arab governments either to adjust themselves to the new geopolitical realities, or seek again Russian protection. At the end, the United States will have no other choice but to reenter Afghanistan and reclaim its positions in South-East Asia and the greater Middle East.
Current strategy makes the US look strong in the region, adhering to a deadline emboldens enemies to fill the vacuum
Max Boot, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, 12/7/2009, Opinion (Atlanta Journal Constitution, Pro & Con: Is Obama’s troop surge the right policy in Afghanistan?, http://www.ajc.com/opinion/pro-s-troop-surge-230980.html)
Obama’s decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan changes the equation. The first reinforcements will be Marines headed for Helmand — and a likely showdown in Marjah. There will be hard fighting ahead, just as there was last summer when Marines entered Nawa and other Taliban strongholds. But with enough resources and enough patience, there is little doubt that American troops and their Afghan allies will be able to secure key areas of southern Afghanistan that have slipped out of the government’s grasp.
The questions that remain unanswered after the president’s West Point address: Will the troops have the time and resources needed to win? “Win” is a word that Obama avoided. He cited his long-standing goal of “disrupting, dismantling and defeating al-Qaida and its extremist allies,” but he spoke merely of his desire to “break the Taliban’s momentum” rather than defeat it altogether.
Nor did he endorse nation-building, even though the only way that Afghanistan will ever be secure is if we build a state capable of policing its own territory.
The most problematic part of Obama’s policy is his pledge to begin a withdrawal in July 2011. Getting 30,000 troops into Afghanistan is a difficult logistical challenge. It will be a major achievement if all of them are in place by July 2010. That will give them only a year to reverse many years of Taliban gains before their own numbers start to dwindle. That may or may not be sufficient. The “surge” in Iraq had a big impact within a year, but the United States had made a much bigger commitment to Iraq pre-surge than it has in Afghanistan.
The good part of the deadline is that it presumably means we will be spared another agonizing White House review for at least another year. That’s no small thing, given that Obama first unveiled an Afghan strategy on March 27, and less than six months later launched another drawn-out reappraisal.
The worrisome part of the deadline is that it may signal a lack of resolve that emboldens our enemies.
But for all the problems of the West Point address, the policy he announced is sound. It is essentially the strategy that Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal and his team of advisers developed this summer for a comprehensive counterinsurgency — yet another word Obama avoided, oddly enough. The president isn’t providing quite as many troops as McChrystal would like, but, counting allies’ contributions, there probably will be enough to secure key population centers.
US withdrawal diverts India’s attentions, allowing China to be emboldened
Robert Kaplan, senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, 10/ 6/ 2009, NYT (Beijing’s Afghan Gamble, http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/07/opinion/07kaplan.html?_r=2&hp=&adxnnl=1&adxnnlx=1254922024-DtWtE47N281yEQSnYLmKyQ)
But what if America decides to leave, or to drastically reduce its footprint to a counterterrorism strategy focused mainly on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border? Then another scenario might play out. Kandahar and other areas will most likely fall to the Taliban, creating a truly lawless realm that wrecks China’s plans for an energy and commodities passageway through South Asia. It would also, of course, be a momentous moral victory achieved by radical Muslims who, having first defeated the Soviet Union in Afghanistan, will then have triumphed over another superpower. And the calculations get more complicated still: a withdrawal of any kind from Afghanistan before a stable government is in place would also hurt India, a critical if undeclared American ally, and increasingly a rival of China. Were the Taliban to retake Afghanistan, India would face a radical Islamistan stretching from its border with Pakistan deep into Central Asia. With the Taliban triumphant on Pakistan’s western border, jihadists there could direct their energies to the eastern border with India. India would defeat Pakistan in a war, conventional or nuclear. But having to do so, or simply needing to face down a significantly greater jihadist threat next door, would divert India’s national energies away from further developing its economy and its navy, a development China would quietly welcome.
US Power in Afghanistan is key to preventing and Iranian rise
Mehmood-Ul-Hassan Khan, contributor to Dawn, the News, International, Nation, Business Recorder, Pakistan Times, Asia Times, 7/3/2010, Overseas Pakistan Friends (Afghanistan: A Hub of Regional Geo-Politics Compulsions and International Geo-Strategic Apparatus, http://www.opfblog.com/10963/afghanistan-a-hub-of-regional-geo-politics-compulsions-and-international-geo-strategic-apparatus/)
In recent times, Afghanistan has become the hub of regional and international power game. Hot pursuits of socio-economic dominance, geo-political superiority and above all geo-strategic presence have already made Afghanistan a flash-point of regional and international power politics. New chess-board has been staged in and around Afghanistan. New guidelines, reformation of foreign policies and the last not the least, strategic rethinking has been reshaped and remerged among the power brokers and main stakeholders. Hectic efforts show that time is short and interests are too big to handle with ease. To secure their short and long terms geo-political and geo-strategic interests composed main key players in the region have already paid personal visits to Kabul for new geo-political and geo-strategic alignments. The surprise visit of US and Iran’s presidents and others high officials indicates that rethinking and regrouping are taking place. An intensive US and NATO military offensive against the Taliban is underway in southern Afghanistan, neighbouring countries are thinking the Americans as good as gone. The old rivalries are renewed and hidden diplomacy is at its peak.
Iran is postioning itself for Afghan control-US withdrawal would only help them
Paul Vallely, Fmr. Deputy Commanding General, Pacific, 7/12/2010, Stand up America (The Iran – Afghanistan Connection, http://standupamericaus.com/the-iran-afghanistan-connection:35158)
America’s longest war is a disaster to date for the US-led NATO forces or at best in a draw, or at worst, in a win for the Taliban, al Qaeda’s extremist partner. Iran sees its hegemony in the region further developing and increasing at the expense of the United States and ISAF Forces. The repercussions of the US exit in these circumstances will impinge on American influence worldwide including the Middle East. The longer the Obama administration clings to the assumption that cooperation with Pakistan and its intelligence agency is the only course for beating the Taliban and al Qaeda, the more elusive an Afghanistan triumph will be for the US and its allies. Iran is winning either way. In the political and security vacuum that is today’s Afghanistan, Karzai’s effort to engage the Taliban is generating deep unease among Iran’s allies in Afghanistan’s Tajik, Uzbek and Hazara communities. Already, the leadership of these non-Pashtun communities – who also dominate the upper echelons of the Afghan military – are organizing to resist, by force, any serious attempt at power-sharing between Karzai’s government and the Taliban. If the Taliban’s political influence across Afghanistan continues to grow – particularly in an environment conditioned by what Tehran sees as America’s strategic and tactical incompetence – Iran will support its Afghan allies as they push back against a resurgent Taliban.” As Tehran pursues this strategy within Afghanistan, it must also assess the evolving role of the United States there and the implications of the U.S. posture toward Iran for Iran’s Afghanistan policy. Tehran perceives Washington as hostile to its interest which is the case and is driven by Obama administration’s pursuit of tightened sanctions. Iranian policymakers will regard the United States, along with America’s Pakistani and Saudi allies, as part of the complex of anti-Iranian external players that Iran needs to balance against in Afghanistan. In this context, Iran has a strong interest in preventing U.S. troops in Afghanistan from influencing any situation along the borders and use of covert operatives to undermine the Iranian government, or used to strengthen Iran There is no question that Afghanistan as a whole is one major SNAFU. Yes, the United States still lacks a comprehensive interagency strategic plan which will outline an end state. Yes, some Non-Government Organizations are working closely with Anti-Afghan Forces providing them with training as well as aiding and abetting their needs. And yes, the country is swiftly falling into the hands of the opposition. In contrast to the United States, which seems at least to be looking for a viable exit strategy from Afghanistan, there is no exit strategy for Iran. Iran publicly calls for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, partly because U.S. forces there could be used against Iran and US influence in the region. But Tehran also calls for the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan because Iranian policymakers believe that the extended U.S. presence there is seen by much of the population as an occupation and that it is this occupation which is fueling an increasingly fierce cycle of violence and instability. From Tehran’s perspective, this cycle of violence and instability empowers Iran’s Afghan adversaries, principally the Taliban, and their external backers, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, both of which are regional rivals to the Islamic Republic.