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.
AP Photo/Musadeq Sadeq, File
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.
Central Asia is a hugely significant region for the United States. It sits at the crossroads of important rivals and rising powers, like China, Russia, and India, and next to threats like Pakistan and Iran. The region also boasts significant oil and gas reserves, as well as large quantities of lithium, copper, rare earth minerals, gold, and many other natural resources that are critical drivers to global commerce.
Page 1 of 4