Language is instructive. While politicians once, in the face of heavy British troop losses in Afghanistan, claimed there would be a "withdrawal" by 2014, the jargon term now being frequently used is a "drawdown" of troops. In fact, as Anatol Lieven has asserted, there will be no withdrawal from Afghanistan, the eastern front in the New Great Game to control Central Asia.
“The US is not withdrawing from Afghanistan and 2014 is not really a cutoff date,” was the emphatic announcement with which Lieven began the 45-minute-long talk. “The US continues to feel threatened by Taliban because of which it will continue to retain bases and military advisors for the Afghan government. However, they have learnt to accept what is happening on the ground in Afghanistan as they were responsible for choosing the country’s administration.”
Without beating around the bush, Lieven summed up the main reason preventing the US from making a clean exit from Afghanistan – “America does not have an exit strategy.
They haven’t formulated any plan about how they will handle the next year’s presidential elections in Afghanistan either.” Lieven explained that at times, people express the fear of a civil war breaking out in Afghanistan if the Americans left. “What do you think is happening right now,” he asked. “Afghanistan has been in a state of civil war since long before the Soviets withdrew from it.”
So the War in Afghanistan will drag on for much longer. Lieven, however, tends not to emphasise the energy geopolitics behind the Fourth Afghan War-the benefits of getting the TAPI Pipeline constructed as a means of diverting Pakistan away from relying on the alternative IP Pipeline that is a popular option with a land subject to constant energy blackouts.