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5 questions every presidential candidate should answer: Afghanistan edition

August 4, 2015

By Fred Kagan

The announcement of the death of Taliban founder and leader Mullah Mohammad Omar (some two years after it occurred) has attracted attention to Afghanistan’s insurgency once again. And it’s about time. That insurgency has regained strength and capability in many areas of Afghanistan, including critical provinces close to the capital, as American and coalition forces have drawn down.

Worse still, the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) has established itself firmly in Afghanistan, a country in which it had virtually no presence 18 months ago. Afghan National Security Forces are continuing to fight hard and take heavy casualties, but they have not been able to retain the gains made by the Afghan surge strategy President Obama implemented in 2009, largely because the US has collapsed its footprint and stopped providing them the kind of assistance they require in accord with the president’s commitment to a withdrawal timeline. Afghanistan is no longer on a path toward stability and security. It is, rather, developing the conditions for a return of Islamist terrorists with global ambitions.

1. Will you, as a candidate, call on President Obama to halt the reduction of American forces in Afghanistan?

President Obama has stated and reiterated his intention to withdraw all American combat forces from Afghanistan by the end of his second term. If he follows through on this commitment, the next president will find his or her options severely constrained. It is politically difficult, however, to seem to be calling for endless deployments of troops to a war that is already the longest that the US has ever fought. The willingness of a candidate to insist that this president retain critical options for his successor is a measure of that candidate’s seriousness about American national security.

Read the full article at the American Enterprise Institute: 5 questions every presidential candidate should answer: Afghanistan edition