The Atlantic

America Needs to Stay in Afghanistan

'U.S. Afghan policy for 15 years has not been nation-building, but exit-seeking.'
Source: Omar Sobhani / Reuters

Nearly 16 years after the September 11 terrorist attacks, the United States is nearing a seminal moment in its involvement in Afghanistan, as President Donald Trump gathers at Camp David today with his national-security team to determine what to do about the deteriorating stalemate he inherited in South Asia.

The Trump administration is reportedly weighing several competing proposals for Afghanistan. While military commanders have recommended an increase of several thousand U.S. troops to enable increased support for the Afghan military and counterterrorism operations, the White House is also considering alternative approaches that could entail the reduction or even the complete exit of American conventional forces—relying instead on special operations forces, paramilitaries, and contractors.

To an unusual degree, the debate over the future of the Afghan war is really about its past: specifically, why a decade and a half of military

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