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A member of the Afghan security forces at the site of a suicide bomb attack that killed at least 10 in Kabul, on Nov. 29. Photo: Noorullah Shirzada/AFP via Getty Images

President Trump reportedly intends to withdraw nearly half of the 14,000 U.S. troops currently in Afghanistan. Given repeated U.S. failures to eradicate the Taliban over the past 17 years, and at the expense of U.S. lives lost and billions spent, bringing troops home has its merits.

Yes, but: Withdrawing 7,000 troops also poses a major risk. In recent months, Washington has been trying to help launch a peace process between Kabul and the Taliban, and the timing of the announcement, along with the speed of the withdrawal’s implementation, could jeopardize its success.

Trump’s decision comes just days after senior U.S. officials met in Dubai with top representatives from the Taliban’s political office in Qatar and its Pakistan-based senior leadership. The insurgents would now enter any formal peace talks from a position of deep strength, because they’ve gotten the withdrawals they’ve always wanted without having to give up anything in return.

Trump also reportedly intends to remove 7,000 troops within just a few months. Withdrawing so many personnel and all their associated equipment and other resources is safer and more efficient if staged through a more gradual process.

The bottom line: To be sure, withdrawing 7,000 troops isn’t catastrophic. Seven thousand U.S. soldiers and 8,000 NATO troops will remain. U.S. financial support for Afghan security forces — essential to keeping them from falling apart — will presumably continue to flow. But Trump's decision will still deal a big psychological blow to beleaguered Afghan forces, embolden Taliban fighters, and potentially result in higher levels of violence in a nation already suffering extensive destabilization.

Michael Kugelman is deputy director and senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center.

Go deeper

Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro ally extradited to U.S.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, in June. Photo: Gaby Oraa/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A key ally of Venezuela's President Nicolás Maduro was extradited from Cape Verde to the U.S. Saturday to face money laundering charges in Florida, Bloomberg first reported.

Why it matters: Venezuela's government called off negotiations with opposition officials that were scheduled for Sunday in Mexico in response to the extradition of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman and financial fixer for Maduro.

4 hours ago - Health

5 times as many police officers have died from COVID as from guns since pandemic began

Photo: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

COVID-19 is the leading cause of death for police officers even though members of law enforcement were among the first to be eligible to receive the vaccine, CNN reports, citing data from the Officer Down Memorial Page.

Why it matters: Nearly 476 police officers have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic started, compared to the 93 deaths as a result of gunfire in the same time period, according to ODMP and CNN.

Virginia energy giant quietly boosts McAuliffe

Former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe speaks during a campaign rally on Oct. 15 in Henrico, Virginia. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Virginia Democrat Terry McAuliffe has sworn off money from the Richmond company Dominion Energy. But the utility has found more subtle ways to back McAuliffe's gubernatorial bid, records show.

Driving the news: Dominion's political action committee has donated $200,000 to a murky political group called Accountability Virginia PAC, a group with ties to prominent Democrats that's been running ads attacking Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin from the right.