Max Boot is, of course, correct when he highlights the intelligence advantages that derive from maintaining U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But there’s a broader point as well.
As much as Obama administration officials hint at containment of a nuclear Iran, containment is simply not possible without permanent basing in the region along all of Iran’s borders. Obama’s abandonment of Iraq not only snatches defeat from the jaws of victory in that country and perhaps Syria as well, but also ends any possibility for containment. Also, stationing U.S. troops as tripwires in America’s regional allies is the best check on Iranian subterfuge. While the Iranian regime often lets ideology color its actions, the Iranian government is also pragmatic: It understands the cost of action increases exponentially when it might involve American troops.
Alas, by withdrawing from Iraq and setting a timeline in Afghanistan, Obama has undercut not only containment of Iran but also its deterrence.