America’s longest war is approaching a crossroads. President Joe Biden’s choices in Afghanistan boil down to this: withdraw all troops by May, as promised by his predecessor, and risk a resurgence of extremist dangers, or stay and possibly prolong the war in hopes of compelling the Taliban to make peace with a weak and fractured government. The second option may be the most likely, but officials say no decision has been made. Afghanistan presents one of the new administration’s tougher and more urgent decisions. The US public is weary of a war nearly 20 years old, but pulling out now could be seen as giving the Taliban too much leverage and casting a shadow over the sacrifices made by US and coalition troops and Afghan civilians. Biden has not commented in detail on Afghanistan since taking office, but he has a long history with the war. In 2009 as vice president, he lost an internal administration debate at a crucial juncture in the war; he argued for reducing the US military commitment to focus mainly on countering extremist groups, but President Barack Obama decided instead to vastly increase troop numbers to 100,000. The Obama strategy failed to force the Taliban to seek peace, and by the time Donald Trump entered the White House in January 2017 Obama had dropped the troop total to about 8,500. Trump increased it by several thousand later that year, and after his administration reached a conditional peace deal with the Taliban in February 2020, he began a withdrawal, including a reduction last month to the current total of 2,500.