Earlier this month, a study group established by Congress recommended that President Joe Biden extend the May 1 deadline for withdrawing troops from America’s longest war. It’s a strategy that many experts say runs the risk of abrogating the U.S.-Taliban agreement and potentially setting back the potential peace process in Afghanistan—or even dooming it to failure.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is a striking similarity in the backgrounds of the individuals involved in these critical recommendations, which are likely to influence whether Biden maintains a “conditions-based” U.S. military footprint in Afghanistan. Two of the group’s three co-chairs and nine of the group’s 12 plenary members have current or recent financial ties to major defense contractors, an industry that soaks up more than half of the $740 billion defense budget, and stands to gain from protracted U.S. military involvement overseas.
There was more diversity in views and financial interests among the 26 “senior advisers” that the group consulted. At least three of these advisers have warned publicly that the suggested troop withdrawal extension may pose significant risks. But the study group’s plenary is deeply intertwined with the military-industrial base—the group’s co-chairs and plenary members have received nearly $4 million in compensation for their work on the boards of defense contractors.
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