The End of Intervention: Explaining the Decisions on US Troops Withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq (2022.12)


초록: Why did President Barack Obama’s administration withdraw US troops from Iraq, but not Afghanistan? This article examines Washington’s strategic considerations to answer this question of scholarly and practical importance. It argues that US policy on military interventions was aimed at preserving relative power. Washington decided on keeping US forces in Afghanistan because the benefits of continued intervention surpassed the costs. By staying, America blocked the expansion of Russian and Chinese influence in Central Asia and restrained local militant organizations, thus reducing the likelihood of terrorist activities and regional conflict. These benefits outweighed the moderate expenses for troops deployment and helped maintain US relative strength. Conversely, the US government withdrew from Iraq because the costs of continued intervention nullified the benefits. On one hand, America’s presence in Iraq caused confrontation with Iran, jeopardizing the peaceful resolution of the Iranian nuclear issue. On the other hand, it fueled international opposition against the US and consumed substantial funds, resulting in loss of clout and resources. As there were few benefits from continued deployment, Washington chose withdrawal to minimize the loss of US relative power.