India needs an action plan after US troops leave Afghanistan

Donald Trump is under heavy criticism for ordering a withdrawal of US troops from Syria and Afghanistan. Whatever you might say about the manner in which he made and announced his decisions, on Afghanistan at least, he is not wrong.

If you look at it from an American perspective, it’s hard to explain why US troops are still in Afghanistan. Bin Laden is done, al-Qaeda has been nearly decimated, and an Afghan government the US midwifed has been in power for several years now. The government controls only around 60 per cent of the country and the Taliban have been growing stronger over the past couple of years. The cultivation and export of narcotics has also been growing.

No one, however, can credibly argue that if the US continues to remain in the country, the security situation will improve in the next three, five or ten years. After 17 years, hundreds of lives lost, over a trillion dollars already spent and an annual budget of hundreds of billions of dollars, the question is whether the cost of staying is worth the benefits. It is reasonable for a thoughtful American to conclude that now is a better time to pull troops out of Afghanistan than later.

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