The situation in Afghanistan in 2020 is a far cry from what it was when the U.S. invaded in response to the 9/11 attacks in 2001. Still, any timeline for a U.S. troop withdrawal must be dictated by U.S. national interests and conditions on the ground, not an artificial political timetable. Any withdrawal that is driven by politics would be a grave strategic error. So, too, would be a bad deal with the Taliban, or one that does not directly involve the Afghan government. Any of these scenarios would have long-term negative consequences for the people of Afghanistan and for U.S. interests in the region.

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