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Obama must keep US military in Afghanistan to counter China, Russia

The Obama administration must recognize that a total military withdrawal would have effects beyond Afghanistan's borders. It would devastate US interests – both political and economic – throughout Central Asia, a critical region where China and Russia now dominate.

In Bagram, US soldiers board a US military plane to leave Afghanistan in July 2011. The withdrawal will reduce America's counter-influence against China and Russia in Central Asia.

AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq, File

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As 2011 drew to a close, so did US military involvement in Iraq. Amid domestic pressure, Iraqi opposition to an American military presence, and a breakdown in negotiations between the US and Iraqi governments, the Obama administration withdrew all of its military forces from Iraq, and will soon face a similar decision in Afghanistan.

Though Afghanistan has requested a long-term security commitment, President Obama will likely encounter opposition from his political base as well as thorny issues like how to handle night raids and Afghan prisoners held by US troops. But as his administration continues its negotiations with the Afghan government, it must recognize that a total withdrawal would have effects beyond Afghanistan’s borders. Simply put, it would devastate US interests – both geopolitical and commercial – throughout Central Asia.


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