Foreign Policy

The Charles Koch Institute’s Will Ruger on status of U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

July 8, 2021

ARLINGTON, Va.— Following reports of the U.S. troop withdrawal from Afghanistan being “for all intents and purposes” complete and ahead of President Biden’s remarks on the withdrawal Thursday, Dr. William Ruger, Afghanistan veteran and vice president of research and policy at the Charles Koch Institute, issued the following statement:

“Americans should be thankful at the end of the United States’ longest war. Ending the military mission in Afghanistan and bringing our troops home are in America’s best interests. We accomplished what we needed to in Afghanistan long ago and continuing to prosecute the conflict no longer made strategic sense.  President Biden made the right call to fully withdraw from the war and it is good he appears to be fully following through with that decision. Our limited national interests in the country can be satisfied through diplomatic engagement with the Afghan government and other regional actors, and we are still able to counter and defend against terrorist threats in the region with over-the-horizon strike capabilities. Going forward, though violence will certainly continue in the country — as it has for the last four decades — the United States should resist any calls to put U.S. troops back into the country to re-engage in Afghanistan’s long and ongoing civil war.

“It is also important we recognize the sacrifices of the nearly 800,000 Americans who served in Afghanistan, including the nearly 2,500 Americans who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Although our civilian and military leaders erred in how they executed the war, the troops’ noble service should be commended and honored appropriately.”

BACKGROUND: 

Dr. Ruger, who was President Trump’s nominee to be Ambassador to Afghanistan, recently penned an editorial for the New York Times, “Why President Biden Must Withdraw From Afghanistan,” in which he outlines how breaking our agreement with the Taliban will endanger American troops and entrench them in an unwinnable war. 

In another piece, Ruger explains how President Biden’s Afghanistan Exit Will Strengthen, Not Weaken, U.S. National Security, writing “we embarked on an idealistic nation-building project that was neither necessary for our security nor a realistic goal for a country like Afghanistan. The result has been far too many Americans killed and wounded to go alongside hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars wasted … We can safely target terrorists in Afghanistan — and around the globe — without a permanent troop presence there. And we can get on with the more important business of fixing problems here at home rather than continuing to chase elusive hopes for the future of Afghanistan.”

Polling by YouGov, commissioned by the Charles Koch Institute, shows two-thirds of Americans support President Biden’s decision to bring our troops home from Afghanistan. In contrast, only 19 percent of veterans and 14 percent of the general population are opposed to the decision.