Our Opinion: Making it clear
Four thousand more U.S. troops will be pulled out of Afghanistan, reducing the force there to about 8,600, it was reported last week. That number is inadequate to do more than protect key U.S. positions and personnel. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw more forces from Afghanistan will be criticized by some, but it is the wise thing to do. After 18 years of American military involvement in that country, there is no prospect of it becoming a reliable ally or, more important, a nation where U.S.-style freedoms are the norm.
Trump’s decision was made without any promises from the Taliban, the Islamic fundamentalist group that ruled the country for many years and has been waging a war to regain control. Trusting them to keep any promises is a fool’s errand, in any event.
Taliban rule over Afghanistan ended — or, rather, was interrupted — after the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on America by the al-Qaida terrorist group. The U.S. invasion that ousted the Taliban was made after they refused to stop providing a safe haven for Osama bin Laden and his bloodthirsty murderers.
Now, bin Laden is dead and al-Qaida is but one of many Islamic terrorist organizations. The question in many minds is what stance the Taliban will take toward them.
If they regain power, the Taliban may be tempted to act again as hosts for terrorist armies. But Trump and other U.S. leaders should make it clear that if that occurs, retribution will be swift and terrible. The Taliban must be made to understand that a U.S. pullout from Afghanistan does not rule out a return — if that proves necessary to safeguard Americans here in the homeland or anywhere else in the world.