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One of the many troubling aspects of President Barack Obama’s national defense policy is his rush to the exits in Afghanistan. When he first ran for president, back in 2008, he called the war in Afghanistan the “necessary war” contrasting it with the war in Iraq.
He was right back then. Invading Iraq in 2003 was something we could have avoided as we had Saddam Hussein contained. Afghanistan, however, was a totally different situation. Let’s remember why we are there in the first place.
We all remember 9/11. The Taliban government of Afghanistan had provided Osama bin Laden’s al Qaeda with a safe haven that he could use to train terrorists and plot attacks. After the al Qaeda attacks on that bright September morning, the Afghan government continued to provide al Qaeda a safe-haven and this is why we deemed it necessary to attack, in late 2001, in order to remove the Taliban government from power.
This was indeed a necessary war. It’s unfortunate that President George W. Bush chose to invade Iraq before the situation in Afghanistan was under control. As a result, while we got bogged down in Iraq; primarily due to Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s incompetence, Afghanistan festered.
We finally were able to get out of Iraq, thanks to President Bush’s troop surge plus new strategies. By that time, Afghanistan had turned into a huge mess.
President Obama wasn’t even half way through his term in office when he apparently ceased to consider the war in Afghanistan the necessary war. He set 2014 as an arbitrary date for the pull-out of all U. S. troops from the country.
This was a huge mistake. In the first place, it let Afghan President Mohammed Karzai know that we were going to leave hang him out to dry. No matter what the situation is by 2014, we are leaving and he is on his own. This has influenced his behavior over the last couple of years.
It also sent a message to the Taliban. It told them that all they have to do is be patient and we will leave. There is no need to negotiate or compromise with anybody. All they have to do is wait and they win.
2014 is indeed an arbitrary date for the final pull-out. It isn’t based on the reality of the tactical situation as President Obama has no idea what that situation will be by then, unless he has the gift of prophecy. This was chosen exclusively for political reasons.
I know that a few of the folks in the Donkey Party who are calling for a quick exit from Afghanistan have an extensive military background. They, however, are retired and aren’t privy to classified briefs on the military situation in Afghanistan. Senior commanders on the ground aren’t reporting to them. The President, on the other hand, is getting this information. Senior officers are reporting to him. He knows, or should know, what’s going on.
Hopefully, whoever is president by this time next year, won’t be making decisions just to keep a vocal portion of his party’s base happy. As commander in chief, he should be listening to the folks who are reading things such as the reports battalion commanders in the field are sending in. For that matter, the president can read this stuff himself if he chooses. He should let the tactical realities in the field dictate what our troop strength should be and how much we can reasonably expect from Afghan troops and police, rather than the clamoring of party hacks.
If we pull our troops out for political reasons, with no regard to what is actually happening on the ground, we risk allowing the Taliban to regain control of Afghanistan. We could very well be right back where we were in 2001 with Islamic extremists back in control and providing a secure home for any Muslim terrorist organization that wants to wage holy war on us. Then, everything we’ve spent, in blood and money, over the last 11 years will have been for nothing.