When President Joe Biden announced last week that the United States would withdraw its last troops from Afghanistan by Sept. 11, he cast the decision as closing the book on a 20-year conflict. “It’s time to end the forever war,” he said.
But the battle for Afghanistan began long before American troops arrived in 2001, and won’t end when the last U.S. soldier leaves. Taliban forces are almost certain to launch a military offensive to try to topple the government in Kabul. The result could be a military campaign that is bloody and short — or bloody and long.
And the United States will continue to have important stakes in the outcome, even if our troops are no longer there.