On the second week of April, President Joseph Biden bravely announced that he hopes for the United States to end the Afghanistan war on its 20-year anniversary, Sept. 11 this year.
Unlike his predecessors, he wants to finish the fighting on that date, rather than kicking the can down the road.
Fareed Zakaria, a well-known expert on foreign policy, wrote in the Washington Post that he approved the choice.
Under President Barack Obama, Washington expanded coalition forces so that at their peak, they numbered around 130,000.
As US forces withdrew, the Taliban always bounced back.
President Donald Trump announced a mini-surge on his own, adding troops but claiming that American soldiers would only fight the enemy and do no nation-building. Eventually, Trump decided he’d had enough and withdrew some of those troops, bringing them down to the current level of around 3,500.
The Taliban has enjoyed a haven in Pakistan and received help from that country’s military.
The Taliban has also benefited from the massive corruption unleashed by the tens of billions of dollars of US aid and military spending that has utterly distorted the Afghan economy.
The United States weakened the Kabul government by insisting that it fight opium production, which for better or worse has been a staple agricultural product in provinces such as Helmand for centuries.
People will claim that this withdrawal shows that America does not have the capacity to stay the course. They will say US troops should remain in Afghanistan as they have in South Korea and Germany.
American soldiers have stayed in Afghanistan longer than they did in Vietnam and twice as long as the Soviets stayed there.
The ultimate answer to the puzzle is that an outside force that has an ambitious set of goals — establishing a functioning democracy, ending the opium trade, ensuring equality for women — cannot succeed without a powerful, competent and legitimate local partner.