Be careful in Afghanistan

Early in his presidency, Barack Obama made it clear to the Taliban that to re-conquer Afghanistan, wrenched from them at the cost of many American lives, all they had to do was wait out the United States. By January 2017, no more than 1,000 U.S. troops would be stationed there, Obama pledged.

Major pullouts already have occurred, taking troop strength down to about 9,800. And the Taliban have responded by launching attacks that already have put large areas of Afghanistan back under their brutal domination. Just last week, they took another major city, Kunduz, with about 300,000 residents.

U.S. airstrikes against the Taliban have proven ineffective. They also have failed to stop Islamic State armies in Iraq and Syria.

Army Gen. John F. Campbell, the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, reportedly is ready to advise that more than 1,000 troops should be kept there after Obama’s pullout deadline. Campbell is to testify to Congress this week.

U.S. policy toward Afghanistan should be re-examined – but in a realistic way.

While delaying Obama’s plan may sound appealing, it may be too little, too late. Unless a reversal of policy is envisioned – a concrete plan to stop the Taliban – leaving a few thousand more troops in Afghanistan may do no more than give the extremists more targets.