Afghanistan is not Iraq

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Afghans celebrate their first international soccer match in a decade, 36 years after rival Pakistan played them in Kabul. Afghanistan thrashed its nuclear neighbor 3-0 on Aug. 20, 2013.
Photo credit: 
Jeremy Kelly, The Times

The recently manifested massive failure of America's intervention in Iraq has led outside observers to speculate that the ongoing rapid drawdown of international military forces in Afghanistan will lead to similar chaos in that country, Karl Eikenberry writes in this Foreign Policy commentary about the new Asia Foundation survey of the Afghan People.

Eikenberry notes that Ahmed Rashid, a commentator on Afghanistan security issues and author of the superb book Talibanwrote in a recentNew York Times op-ed that the U.S. troop withdrawal plan formulated in 2009 "is proving catastrophically wrong now." Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham warned two months ago: "If the President repeats his mistakes from Iraq and withdraws all U.S. troops from Afghanistan, based on a certain date on a calendar, we fear a similar failure will unfold ... as we have seen Iraq."

Eikenberry, the William J. Perry Fellow in International Security at CISAC and former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan, writes that the Asia Foundation's just-released 2014 Survey of the Afghan People indicates that while the Afghans do worry about the future of their country, they by no means share the deep pessimism of the foreign prophets of doom who assert that it is only a matter of time until the disaster on the Euphrates is repeated on the Kabul River. Comparing the attitudes of the Afghan and Iraqi people on key political, security, and economic issues helps explain why this is so.