Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice argues that the United States needed "more time" in Afghanistan to ensure stability "and consolidate our gains against terrorism," even if 20 years felt too long to maintain a military presence.
"We have understood this before," Rice wrote in a Washington Post op-ed published Tuesday. "Technically, our longest war is not Afghanistan: It is Korea."
The Korean war ended in a stalemate, and 70 years later there are still more than 20,000 American troops in South Korea, Rice notes. While accepting that "even the sophisticated South Korean army cannot deter" North Korea on its own, Washington and Seoul were able to achieve, after several decades, "a stable equilibrium on the Korean Peninsula, a valuable South Korean ally, and a strong presence in the Indo-Pacific."
So, Rice pondered, why couldn't the same strategy be applied to Afghanistan? "Afghanistan is not South Korea," she writes. "But we might have achieved a reasonable outcome with a far smaller commitment. More time for Afghans didn't have to entail combat troops, just a core American presence for training, air support, and intelligence." Read Rice's full op-ed at The Washington Post.