If the United States should adopt a small-footprint counterterrorism strategy, Afghanistan would descend again into civil war. The Taliban group headed by Mullah Omar and operating in southern Afghanistan (including especially Helmand, Kandahar, and Oruzgan Provinces) is well positioned to take control of that area upon the withdrawal of American and allied combat forces. The remaining Afghan security forces would be unable to resist a Taliban offensive. They would be defeated and would disintegrate. The fear of renewed Taliban assaults would mobilize the Tajiks, Uzbeks, and Hazaras in northern and central Afghanistan. The Taliban itself would certainly drive on Herat and Kabul, leading to war with northern militias. This conflict would collapse the Afghan state, mobilize the Afghan population, and cause many Afghans to flee into Pakistan and Iran.http://www.understandingwar.org/otherwork/dont-go-wobbly-afghanistan-weekly-standard
. . . And is this all bad? I mean, letting Afghanistan--an "Islamic Republic" descend into chaos? Hugh Fitzgerald of Jihad Watch has the opposite take on the Afghan situation at Fitzgerald: The "New" Policy in Afghanistan and Pakistan (from Jihad Watch). Hugh presents the opposite view to the popularly held one of "nation building" in Afghanistan at the cost of American blood and taxpayers' dollars.
Also, See Hugh Fitzgerald's "If General Petraus had read War and Peace." Hugh Fitzgerald believes that sometimes no action, a waiting game is preferable to action and loss of troops. Hugh's "War and Peace" article is synopsized at How to Stop the Islamic Jihad as "How to Defeat the Camp of Islam." The complete article, "If General Petraus had read War and Peace." was originally published in The New English Review.
The Kagans go on,
[quoting Obama] "To defeat an enemy that heeds no borders or laws of war, we must recognize the fundamental connection between the future of Afghanistan and Pakistan--which is why I've appointed Ambassador Richard Holbrooke . . . to serve as Special Representative for both countries." [close Obama quote] That "fundamental connection" between Afghanistan and Pakistan was one of the important principles President Obama laid out in his March 27, 2009, speech announcing his policy in South Asia. It reflected a common criticism of the Bush policy in Afghanistan, which was often castigated as insufficiently "regional." It also reflected reality: The war against al Qaeda and its affiliates is a two-front conflict that must be fought on both sides of the Durand Line.
Now, however, some of the most vocal supporters of the regional approach are considering--or even advocating--a return to its antithesis, a purely counterterrorism (CT) strategy in Afghanistan. Such a reversion, based on the erroneous assumption that a collapsing Afghanistan would not derail efforts to dismantle terrorist groups in Pakistan, is bound to fail.
Within Pakistan, the U.S. reversion to a counterterrorism strategy (from the counterinsurgency strategy for which Obama reaffirmed his support as recently as August) would disrupt the delicate balance that has made possible recent Pakistani progress against internal foes and al Qaeda . . .
That is, to say, that the collapse of Afghanistan WOULD lead to failure to dismantle the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Pakistan.
The Kagans go on to analyze the Pakistan situation, which you can find at http://www.understandingwar.org/otherwork/dont-go-wobbly-afghanistan-weekly-standard continued at http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/017/024cuejv.asp?pg=2