1/ To all the Afghanistan Watchers I follow and follow me: It's hard not to waver between pull out/stay in if you've been lucky enough to work this issue since before 9/11. Many make a compelling case (like @BRRubin) that the bloodshed must simply stop. Hard to argue with that https://twitter.com/biannagolodryga/status/1381993140001898500
2/ But will pulling out lead to less bloodshed, or will it inevitably devolve into the Afghanistan of the early 90s post-Najibullah?
3/ What are U.S interests in Afghanistan? A simple direct question, but one I think we've lost sight of as time has elapsed and fighting continues.
It's pretty clear the Taliban sees the establishment of the Emirate as the only end state acceptable. What does that mean for the U.S.?
5/ At one time immediately post-9/11 there was a naive thought among those who should have known better that Afghanistan would be the Switzerland of Central Asia. That became the "Turkey of Central Asia" around the time of Neuman/Wood
6/ But perhaps the most realistic was Eikenberry saying an end state like Bangladesh is the best we could hope for. Somewhat stable quasi-democracy with a "functionally corrupt" (love that expression) government
7/ That won't happen if the Taliban rules. They might care about foreign aid, but from everything that we see from their statements, it matters far less than the "correct" form of government.
8/ And what of the region? I believe the China "threat" is overblown (yes, a challenge but let's be cautious before we recreate the "10 foot tall Soviet Infantryman" of the Cold War. But Iran and Pakistan share borders and water resources, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is its own problem
9/ And the AQ/ISKP issue, despite "commitments regarding the former, isn't likely to disappear. All this is to say I'm skeptical of withdrawal bringing peace. I hope I'm wrong, but I'm likely right. Fin.