The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is driven largely by domestic politics. That is a privilege of a country that is both rich and safe. But the United States has security interests in Afghanistan and Pakistan that, despite its best attempts, it will not be able to ignore.
Two and a half years after the fall of the Taliban, Afghanistan is once more lapsing into bloody chaos. Although President Hamid Karzai is strong on paper, he is weak in fact. The drug trade is surging, the Taliban are creeping back, and real power rests in the hands of the country's many warlords. Instead of disarming the militias, Washington is using them to hunt the remnants of al Qaeda and the Taliban. But ordinary Afghans are paying the price.