The Consequences Of Disengagement?

While urging "strategic patience" in the Middle East, Ryan Crocker writes that "disengagement from Pakistan and Afghanistan after the Soviet retreat in 1989 ultimately gave al-Qaeda the space to plan the 9/11 attacks." Greg Scoblete begs to differ:

Can Crocker, or anyone - offer a remotely plausible scenario which sees the U.S. "engaged" in Afghanistan in the 1980s that prevents the rise of al Qaeda internationally? Bin Laden wasn't even in Afghanistan until 1996. As we're learning now, the problem in Afghanistan isn't American engagement or lack thereof, it's Pakistan's regional interests. Maybe there was a magical formula available to the U.S. in the 1980s that changes Pakistan's interests in Afghanistan so that it didn't use the country as a dumping ground for the ISI's fundamentalists. But I doubt it.