WASHINGTON - It seemed like it had been settled years ago - the United States would withdraw all military forces from Afghanistan in 2014. Now reports have surfaced of a deal that would change that, and a retired Army colonel is skeptical that such a move would improve the situation.
NBC News reports that an agreement, which has not yet been signed or finalized, would keep U.S. military posts in Afghanistan for years and commit billions of dollars to the country's security forces.
Retired Col. Jack Jacobs told WTOP's Mike Moss and Bruce Alan in an interview Wednesday that he's not surprised.
Without an American military presence, Jacobs says, Afghanistan will "dissolve into its component pieces; the Taliban will pop up again; there's a lot of internal conflict and corruption. ...
"We're not particularly interested, having made all of that sacrifice, to completely bail out and leave without anything to show for it."
Jacobs also says the American military still thinks it can improve the readiness of the Afghan forces.
"Whether this is true or not is beside the point," he added.
He thinks that the idea of a firm 2014 withdrawal deadline was always a fiction: "I don't think that the American government ... ever had the intention of leaving absolutely no one behind."
One of the arguments for a continued presence in Afghanistan is that American scrutiny will reduce corruption and the disappearance of American foreign aid.
Jacobs rejects that argument: If events of the last year or two are any indication, "it doesn't matter whether you're there or not; there's going to be money siphoned off."
He thinks that the only way to get a good result in Afghanistan is to go bigger.
"I don't think we're going to make very much progress there unless we have the intention of staying there for a decade or more and be very serious about how we're going to influence what takes place in Kabul.
"Without making a real effort to do that, yeah - we are wasting our money."
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