As Afghanistan Pullout Nears, US Emphasizes Plans to Keep War Going

Pentagon: US will retain military leverage over Taliban

The US was supposed to be out of Afghanistan in May, and by the end of August they’ll finally make good on that pledge, more or less. Officials are quick to argue that the US will retain military capabilities in Afghanistan going forward.

This has a political dimension. President Trump made the initial peace deal to withdraw from Afghanistan, but now Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R – IL), an opponent of ending the war, is arguing that the withdrawal is tantamount to a “crushing defeat” in the war.

Instead of defending the peace plan, the Biden Administration is arguing that the war is effectively ongoing, openly talking about heavy airstrike campaigns against the Taliban well beyond the pullout.

Officials are envisioning adding more and more military options to Afghanistan, seeking military base access along the Afghan border in other countries.

While those deals aren’t in place, the Pentagon is still arguing that they will retain military leverage over the Taliban after finishing their withdrawal in late August.

The US has been arguing for weeks now that they will retain military capacity in Afghanistan, and has been assuring the Afghan government that they will be supporting them.

This comes amid Afghan officials insisting they’d be fine without US support, and amid mounting losses the Afghans are facing despite the US troops being present as it is.

After 20 years, the US is so used to being at war in Afghanistan that even when the troops leave they can’t imagine not being able to attack that nation. It’s not clear what that’s going to look like, but they just assume attacks can happen.

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.