In his Feb. 27 op-ed, “It’s time to get out of Afghanistan,” Richard Cohen reported on a clear consensus among our generals that if the United States leaves, the Taliban wins. While it is true that without U.S. military forces the Afghan government could quickly collapse, the outcome would not be, as it was in the 1990s, the regime’s singular replacement by the Taliban. Instead, the United States will have invited a protracted, chaotic, bloody civil war, not another Vietnam as Mr. Cohen cited. It would involve Taliban factions, as well as the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and Afghan warlords and their ethnic militias, all pitted against one another for turf and assets. The conflict would be compounded by the intervention of Iran, Pakistan, Russia and India on behalf of proxy groups. Meanwhile, millions of desperate Afghans would try to flee the country. Our understandable frustrations with the war should not blind us to the probable legacy of deserting an Afghan state we helped create.
Marvin G. Weinbaum, Washington