Even if the United States dismantled al Qaeda tomorrow, there would still be demand for U.S. engagement. Afghanistan is a crucial piece of regional stability and its security is linked to the United States and its allies such as European countries, Pakistan, India and others.
While the Afghan Taliban leadership’s goals are primarily locally focused, their shared experiences with these groups make it likely that they will provide assent, if not active participation, in their campaigns against Afghanistan’s neighbors.
Progress in stabilizing Afghanistan and diminishing its insurgency ultimately requires governance reforms and institution building that neither troops nor Predator drones can provide. First and foremost, the Obama administration must focus on developing political and economic strategies that can coerce, cajole, or co-opt the Afghan government into taking these necessary steps to ultimately secure stability in Afghanistan.
And there is no suggestion in that brief essay that such goals would be accomplished through reconciliation with the Afghan Taliban; nor with ISAF spearheading that reconciliation.