After critiquing the gauzy proposals of each of the Democratic candidates for Afghanistan, the editors of the Washington Post finally get around to their own plan—stay:
What if ground troops are the best, or only, way to keep a pro-Western government in Kabul, and if keeping such a government stable is the best, or only, way to prevent a terrorist resurgence? The United States has ground troops in South Korea and Western Europe decades after the shooting wars that brought them there, precisely because their stabilizing presence helps prevent war. Afghanistan is, to be sure, a much more dangerous environment, but U.S. combat deaths have numbered in the low double digits in recent years.
Note that they conflate, without evidence, counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism strategies. I would genuinely like to see any evidence that a counter-insurgency strategy can be effective in Afghanistan or that it does not actually conflict with a counter-terrorism strategy.
Before leaving this subject I do want to point out one egregious bit of crackpottery:
On the debate stage, former vice president Joe Biden defended the Obama administration’s decision, then reiterated his long-held view that Afghanistan “will not be put together” and that the United States should withdraw its troops, except for bases in Pakistan, from which it can strike at terrorists when the need arises.
The United States presently has no bases in Pakistan; on occasion we have used Pakistani bases. The Pakistani government has steadfastly refused to allow the U. S. to have bases within Pakistan. And there’s actually pretty fair evidence that the Pakistani government is sponsoring the Taliban. Also, take a glance at a map and consider the geopolitical implications of a U. S. military base with adequate resources to “strike at terrorists when the need arises”. India? China?