It is a done deal. U.S Armed Forces are leaving Afghanistan after twenty years, and NATO is right along with us. American diplomatic and financial support will carry the primary burden of securing our national interests in the country, with over-the-horizon counter terrorism operations a potential option against a resurgent Al Qaida or ISIS.
What happens now? This is what I predict:
The Taliban and current Afghan elected government will be unable to come to negotiated peaceful solution, will continue attacking each other, and without U.S. or NATO forces on the ground, will significantly expand the violence.
The Taliban will settle old scores against those that supported or cooperated with the U.S./NATO/elected Afghan government – think assassinations, torture, and entire families might vanish.
Warlord militias (based on tribal and ethnic ties) join the fray, and Afghanistan reverts to a full-fledged civil war.
Without US and NATO trainers, contractors, and air support, the Afghan Army and Air Force rapidly becomes combat ineffective.
A new Afghan diaspora begins, as educated women, teachers, journalists, businessmen and women, and the civil governance flee or be arrested or killed.
The U.S. and many other embassies close or are relocated out of Kabul based on the unstable security situation, and diplomacy falters.
The U.S. and other nations seriously reconsider continued financial support given the raging civil war, unclear governmental control of outside funds, and Afghan corruption on all sides.
With the U.S. and NATO out, other global players, such as China, which shares a common border with Afghanistan, and Russia, long a serious player in Afghanistan, seek to supplant the U.S. and NATO.
Terrorist groups find relative safe haven yet again in Afghanistan’s remote hinterlands.
A grim, but not unrealistic forecast. Next week I will talk about ideas to mitigate some of this damage in my next post.
Meanwhile, enjoy being an American with all of our freedoms this fourth of July. We are lucky! And always remember that luck came from sacrifices on the ground and at sea by the uniformed soldiers, Marines and sailors that came before us, and were united to stand against oppression, and the help of other countries without which our fledgling government would not have survived.
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