Op-Ed: US to withdraw troops, close bases, but the future is unclear

Posted Sep 2, 2019 by Paul Wallis
The long, tough negotiations between the Afghan government, Taliban and the US are now a done deal, at least in theory. Negotiators say the deal simply needs Presidential approval. Meanwhile, the violence has continued unabated.
Washington wants to end its military involvement in Afghanistan and has been talking to the Taliban ...
Washington wants to end its military involvement in Afghanistan and has been talking to the Taliban since at least 2018
Desha-Kalyan CHOWDHURY, AFP/File
Negotiators have agreed to the exit of 5,000+ US troops, and closure of some bases, but it’s only a partial withdrawal at this stage. 9,000 troops will remain. That’s not necessarily the whole US objective, though, insofar as Trump’s stated objective was removal of US troops.
Another problem is whether aid will continue to be supplied to Afghanistan, given the uncertainty of the future. Foreign aid is basically supplying the medical and other services the battered Afghan economy can barely deliver by itself.
The exact position on the ground remains unclear. The Taliban have launched several major attacks during the conduct of negotiations. The default position for any type of truce or peace in Afghanistan is that fighting usually starts again, and this is the predicted outcome for these negotiations.
At least one news source says that the CIA will increase its presence in Afghanistan. That’s a fairly safe bet. The US is likely to ensure intelligence is present to monitor future developments. Whether or not that matters to the Taliban or Afghan government is debatable at best.
History vs the future, again? Bet on it.
History has a habit of kicking Afghanistan in the teeth repeatedly. Since the Russian invasion of 1979, the country has been at war with itself and the world. Peace simply hasn’t existed. The various international and national players in Afghanistan seem to ignore the fact that the country is devastated, with massive social and economic issues. The many internal conflicts are unresolved.
In the best possible scenario, rebuilding will be long, tough, and expensive. It’s also likely to be extremely contentious, offering many more excuses for a new war. Whole generations have been decimated. The infrastructure and basic services are limping along. It’ll cost tens of billions, and take decades.
The fears of future conflict are almost certainties. Whatever agreement is glued together by expediency is likely to come apart under the sheer scope of these issues. The world has failed Afghanistan, and badly. Whatever the cosmetic effects of these negotiations, the future is likely to be more of the same.