Mr. Boot is deluding himself if he believes that extending the war for another 10, 20 or 30 years is in the U.S. national security interest. While concerns about a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan are understandable, they are far outweighed by the considerable manpower, time, taxpayer money and opportunity costs the United States would need to expend to prevent it. To believe the Taliban wouldn’t think twice before again hosting transnational terrorists is far-fetched: The group lost its control of Afghanistan because of it. Indeed, in the years since, Taliban officials have openly regretted their past association with al-Qaeda.
The United States was morally and legally justified to intervene in Afghanistan after 9/11. Al-Qaeda deserved nothing less than destruction. But the United States accomplished that objective in the opening months of the war. It has the intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance capacity to monitor and combat the threat of transnational terrorism without distracting itself with another decade of nation-building and deploying yet another generation of Americans into a decades-long Afghan civil war.
Daniel R. DePetris, Washington
The writer is a fellow at Defense Priorities.