Those who make the case that withdrawing U.S. troops will unleash another bloody civil war where Afghan women and men will be at the mercy of the Taliban and warlords, are raising the exact same justification made for the war in 2001: that it's our moral duty to protect Afghans from fundamentalist violence. This logic ignores the fact that we have nurtured and created the very fundamentalist violence that targets Afghans as explained above. By empowering war criminals and protecting a corrupt government that has forgiven the crimes of all sides including the Taliban, and that even includes some Taliban leaders, all we have done is complicate a war that was on-going. "A member of RAWA who goes by the pseudonym Zoya in a U.S. speaking tour last month made it clear that it's hard to imagine things getting worse if the U.S. does pull out immediately. The damage isn't being prevented by the United States - it's being carried out by the United States.
Instead of subjecting Afghans to the three oppressive forces of a stronger Taliban, a corrupt and criminal government, and a deadly foreign occupation, the first thing we Americans can control most directly is to end our occupation immediately. This alone won't address the Taliban and Northern Alliance. But it will reduce the oppressive forces at work, and potentially reduce the legitimacy of the warlords and the motives driving the Taliban.
How do we undo the damage we have subjected innocent Afghans to? Afghans themselves have the answers to that. Surveys have shown that a majority of Afghans want a complete disarmament of our warlord allies - essentially that the U.S. needs to take back the guns we put into the hands of the Northern Alliance and their private militias. Surveys have also shown that Afghans want war crimes tribunals to hold all the corrupt and criminal fundamentalists accountable in some sort of court, perhaps even the International Criminal Court (U.S. government officials shouldn't be exempt from this type of accountability either). With weapons, warlords, and U.S. troops gone, real democracy could potentially take root and pro-democracy forces could someday operate freely. Many have also called for a massive Marshall Plan for poverty-stricken Afghanistan, to flood the country with money in the hands of small groups, organizations, and civil society, and eventually to help rebuild the country with a strong, non-drug-based economy. With all the money freed up from military operations that would be fairly feasible.
As for the Taliban, even the U.S. government publicly admits that the Pakistani government's own agencies have long supported the renegade army as a tool for national and regional stability. With the U.S. troops gone, the Taliban's raison d'être inside Afghanistan would be greatly weakened. If the United States were to take the lead in regional talks between Pakistan, India, Iran, Russia, and China to address the Pakistani government's fears of a hostile regime in Afghanistan, it would go a very long way toward undermining the Taliban.
These measures are necessary but may not guarantee stability for Afghanistan. Still the current occupation only guarantees instability, so at the very least the time for a non-military solution is now. In other words, we can choose to repeat a failed experiment with predictably negative results by extending the war in any number of ways. Or we can implement the complex, constructive measures that could potentially help stabilize Afghanistan, undermine the fundamentalist misogynist criminals, help the Afghan people take back their country, and undermine the conditions for violence.
These are complex demands to make of the Obama administration. But it has taken a complex set of destructive American policies and many years to destroy Afghanistan. It will take a similar amount of time and complexity, as well as trial and error, to help rebuild Afghanistan for ordinary Afghans, and by extension make Americans safer. We can make these demands as secondary points in our call for an end to the war. But the primary demand easily fits on a protest placard: "End the U.S. War in Afghanistan NOW." Let's make that call loudly, clearly, and ubiquitously, as soon as possible, so that Obama and Congress can't ignore us any longer.