Pentagon Would Face Costly Lawsuits If US Ended Afghanistan War

Military made contracts anticipating years of war

Since February 29 of 2020, the US has had a peace deal in place, intending to withdraw from Afghanistan on May 1 of 2021. The US military was always averse to that, but seems to have been basing its contracts on the idea it wouldn’t happen.

Former financial officials are warning that if the US does leave Afghanistan, either on May 1 or any time in 2021, the Pentagon would be facing down a “barrel full of lawsuits” from contracts that had not been fulfilled yet.

This is rather a flimsy excuse for dragging the war on, and such a clumsy situation to be in with the knowledge of the war’s end being public throughout, that it must inevitably be questioned if this was just many, many colossal blunders, or if the Pentagon was openly trying to contractually obligate itself to the Afghan War.

Another obvious question is why, as theses contracts kept being signed, officials weren’t raising the issue of these contractual obligations throughout 2020. At the very least, that would’ve been a chance for someone to convince them to stop making such contracts before now, which once again makes this seem nearly deliberate.

Of course none of this really obliges the US to stay in Afghanistan. Rather, it just imposes a cost for making good on the peace deal. Its hard to imagine that the US would honestly keep the war going just to avoid these lawsuits, even if that’s the obvious implication of officials pointing out the risk.

To the extent anyone might be swayed, it’s an administration that is undecided on the pullout, and which might be inclined to put off making any decisions to avoid embarrassing lawsuits.

Deals extending beyond the 2021 pullout dates were still being made by the Pentagon as recently as this month, according to officials. At some point, one would hope that the military realizes the hole they’ve made for themselves and stop digging, because the US cannot possibly stay in Afghanistan forever to avoid lawsuits.

Even if the Pentagon gets its way and keeps the war going beyond 2021, this is an embarrassing way to go about it, and should once again draw attention to the Pentagon trying to avoid military pullouts by appealing to the momentum the war already has.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.