Jerrod A. Laber
Security, Middle East
Washington tried to remake Kabul for eighteen years, but it is time to acknowledge the limits of U.S. power and to come home.
America Can't Solve Afghanistan's Corruption Problems
On Monday, April 8, three U.S. soldiers and one contractor were killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, bringing the total number of U.S. personnel killed there in 2019 to seven. For advocates of foreign policy restraint, every new American death represents the moral imperative for U.S. withdrawal from the region. To the Trump administration’s credit, U.S. envoys have been in discussions with the Taliban for months, seeking a possible end to the now almost eighteen-year-old war. But these efforts have been met largely with derision inside the D.C. Beltway. Representatives Jim Banks and Liz Cheney went so far as to introduce the “Ensuring a Secure Afghanistan Act” last week, to prevent a possible drawdown in Afghanistan if they are not satisfied with the details of any U.S.-Taliban deal.
It is true that without U.S. support, Afghanistan would crumble, and, most likely, crumble fast. But as the latest report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) shows clearly, Washington’s nation-building project has failed. Nearly two decades of American investment has produced no enduring progress and in some cases—such as corruption—actually made things worse. More money, time, and precious life will not produce a secure and stable Afghanistan. The best path for the United States is to leave, ending the facade of state-building, and focusing solely on counterterrorism.