Following an extended war, Islamic extremists in Afghanistan defeat a superpower and expel them from their country. Afghanistan then falls into civil war, and those same Islamic extremists wrest control of Kabul. As the country plummets into poverty and abuse, they use Afghanistan as a base to launch terror attacks around the globe. Even worse, terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda, Jemaat Islamiyah and others use the victory to recruit men, gather funds, and gain power.
Of course, I refer not to the future of America in Afghanistan, but to the result of the USSR's ill fated venture in the 1980s.
President Obama--and the Democrats encouraging a smaller military footprint in Afghanistan--should take heed of the Russia’s example. Any pull out of American forces, even leaving a robust contingent of special forces operators, intelligence analysts, and unmanned drones, will radically motivate the global mujhadeen and their Islamic jihad. It is hard to deny that if we pull out of Afghanistan, Islamic extremism will benefit.
I first read an abbreviated description of this idea on the blog Abu Muqawama, and I can’t get the logic of it out of my head. A dramatic draw down of US forces will enable Al Qaeda and the Taliban, along with associated groups around Pakistan and Afghanistan, to declare victory over the Western powers. They can say they have defied two different superpowers.
This propaganda victory for Islamic extremism will aid Al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations in recruiting, financing and launching future operations. Money from around the Muslim world will fill their coffers and new recruits will swell their ranks. Even if our counter-terrorism efforts keep Al Qaeda off balance in Waziristan and the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan, a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan will radically motivate Al Qaeda in other parts of the world such as Yemen, Somalia, Indonesia, or Thailand.
Like all things, even our failure to create a stable, non-extremist government in Afghanistan can be mitigated. Our counter-terrorism strategy throughout the world has been very effective at destroying Al Qaeda operatives thus far.
But we cannot deny that failure in Afghanistan will lead directly to a strengthened Mujhadeen.