Ex-CIA Agent Believes US Should Be In Afghanistan

(RightWing.org) – Since President Biden’s disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan in August 2021, the US has had no official presence in the war-torn country. Now a former CIA official says that’s a mistake, and we should re-engage with the country’s new leaders.

On July 11, Douglas London, who spent 34 years as a CIA intelligence officer and Chief of Station, spoke at a panel organized by the Middle East Institute, a Washington, DC-based think tank. London called for the US to re-establish a presence in Afghanistan. He said the current administration’s approach, which the White House calls “over the horizon,” is “largely remote in terms of intelligence” and doesn’t give us the same information — and influence — as having an official presence in the country.

Right now, most of what we know about what’s happening in Afghanistan comes from aerial surveillance and drones. London says that isn’t good enough, and many counterterrorism experts agree; long-distance surveillance and targeting are making our operations less effective and leading to tragic mistakes.

London says the Taliban “is not homogenous” and is made up of different factions with different interests. He said they can be influenced, but only if we’re actually there to talk to them. That would mean recognizing the radical Islamist organization as the legitimate government of Afghanistan — but, he pointed out, recognizing them as the government doesn’t mean agreeing with what they’re doing.

London thinks building links with the Taliban, in both the capital Kabul and the Taliban’s spiritual home in Kandahar, where many of the movement’s senior figures live, would let us make progress on important issues. One example he cited was the ongoing fight against the Islamic State, which is trying to make Afghanistan into a new base of operations.

The Taliban are undeniably bad; the Islamic State (IS) is undeniably, worse. Limited cooperation with the Taliban could be useful in defeating the IS once and for all. Is it worth the price, though? No country recognizes the Taliban regime. Does the US want to be the first?

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