The lesson of the past several decades is that once Americans establish ourselves to assure security, we stay as long as it takes and then stay some more. World War II has been over for 67 years, but we still have 37,000 troops in Japan and 53,000 in...
Having troops in Afghanistan (and just as importantly an infrastructue to support them) makes strategic good sense. If Iran becomes beligerent they must look to the east as well as the west when planning their defences. In addition Pakistan, none too stable a place on the best of days, is within easy reach if it appears that internal foment might compromise the security of their nuclear weapons. Lastly it irritates the Russians and is reminder to them that they aren't nearly as powerful as they think they are. It's a tradeoff of dollars instead of blood and for those of us who have served it's a great investment.
The argument for leaving 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan after 2014 is more or less reasonable on its face. The Kabul government is fragile; our gains might be reversed; the Afghan military is not ready to stand on its own. Here's the unreasonable, unavoidable part: If we don't leave then, we probably never will.
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