Without a negotiated political settlement with the Taliban, which is still a longshot, a U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan would have serious risks. Chief among them would be the resurgence of terrorism and the deterioration of human rights—including women’s rights—that come with a Taliban victory. A precipitous exit from the country might be worse than the status quo.
Although the American public is weary of war, Afghanistan is a particularly concerning problem that will need to be a top national security priority for the incoming administration. The region is home to the largest concentration of terrorist groups in the world and on the verge of collapse should the U.S. withdraw forces. Unfortunately, continual U.S. engagement results in high cost. Recognizing this challenge, this paper provides a recommendation for an Afghanistan strategy.