It will be wrong for America and Afghanistan’s ISAF allies to cut ties and run in 2014, abandoning plans for a ten-year support and a training role in Afghanistan, which has been much discussed. To stop any role at all will set up the Afghan forces to fail and do a great disservice to the region. It is well established that the US is uncomfortable with Hamid Karzai as President of Afghanistan. They had to endure both his incompetence and corruption, but they resent his attempts to wreck their negotiations with the Taliban.
When Karzai realised he was being cut out of talks, in which the US would deal face-to-face with the Taliban, he froze discussions on the status of US forces left in the country after 2014. In response to this position, US President Barack Obama is reportedly considering a “zero option”, under which, all US troops will leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014.
This will be a grave mistake. Afghanistan is not Karzai and elections in 2014 will elect a new Afghan president. The new incumbent may be better for the country, but whoever is the president, Afghan forces will still need support. They do not have an air force and very little artillery. Even if Afghan forces now carry out more than 90 per cent of all their missions on their own, they still rely on their ISAF allies for communications in the field and much of their transport.