Tip Sheets

Cornell experts discuss U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, Taliban takeover

Media Contact

Becka Bowyer

Over the past few days, the Taliban have continued to seize control of Afghanistan. Afghan civilians fear a return to the terrorist group’s rule and tens of thousands of people are looking to flee the country.

Sarah Kreps

Professor of Government

Sarah Kreps is a professor of government and international relations at Cornell University. Her research focuses on the intersection of international politics, technology, and national security. Kreps says the U.S. should have engaged in a more measured withdrawal after the recent surge of fighting.

Kreps says:

“The decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan after nearly 20 years made good strategic sense. The U.S. had long overstayed its welcome and usefulness and an open-ended commitment would have been necessary to prop up the Afghan government and military.

“How the U.S. handled the withdrawal, however, is inexcusable. Further, the U.S. should have engaged in a more measured drawdown timed after the summer surge of fighting – a predictable seasonable pattern – had given way to winter dormancy. At the least, removing military forces before civilians have been evacuated is a recipe for disaster.

“The U.S. entirely owns what was a predictable debacle. If the chaotic withdrawal is any indication, the U.S. may not have thought clearly about the implications of a post-U.S. Afghanistan and needs to consider a possible role in securing the Kabul airport and evacuating Afghan civilians who have cooperated with U.S. forces and are especially vulnerable to the Taliban.”

Barry Strauss

Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor in Humanistic Studies

Barry Strauss, the Bryce and Edith M. Bowmar Professor in Humanistic Studies at Cornell University and Corliss Page Dean Fellow at the Hoover Institution, is an expert in military strategy. Strauss says the United States could have pulled out slowly, in phases.

Strauss says:

“The war in Afghanistan ceased making strategic sense long ago. The mismanagement of American withdrawal has only made things worse. We could have pulled out slowly, in phases, and with careful attention to bringing our allies to safety. Or we could have left the small force of 3,500 troops there, with American airpower to back them up. Instead, we have followed the path of chaos and humiliation. It’s a terrible lesson for the world of the meaning of the pax Americana.”

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