Last night Barrack Obama made a speech from the Oval Office where he declared the end of US combat operations in the war in Iraq. I eagerly look forward to the same speech about Afghanistan.
My opinions about the two wars are widely different. I vehemently opposed the foolish venture in Iraq. It was an unnecessary diversion from the real enemy. After 9/11 I felt it was essential that we eliminate those that actually attacked us; including Osama Bin Laden and Al-Quada.
A goal short of elimination was removing Afghanistan as a safe haven for Al-Quada training bases. Unfortunately Bin Laden is still out there, but at least Afghanistan is no longer a launching pad for attacks against the US; and it no longer will be.
Even if the Taliban takes over the country after we pull out, it will not be a viable option for Al-Quada to set up headquarters. Before 9/11 they had active bases in Afghanistan. Not knowing what was to come, we didn’t take Bin Laden seriously enough. Our efforts against him consisted of a few half-hearted attempts with cruise missiles. If Bin Laden were to resurface again the response would be far more severe. He is not foolish enough to show his head there. There is no strategic reason for us to stay.
Some will argue the human rights issue. I agree it is terrible that the Taliban does not respect human, and in particular women’s, rights. However, America can not be the world’s policeman. Our resources are stretched too thin. We are already kicking the can for the costs of these wars down the road to future generations. A bankrupt America in 2025 will be no good to anyone.
In his groundbreaking 1987 book The Rise and Fall Of the Great Powers, author Paul Kennedy points out that major powers decline after they apply too much in expenditures to military ventures. If America continues its current rate of both debt and military spending, we will soon see ourselves as a former great power, watching ourselves being overtaken by China; both militarily and economically. If you don’t believe that, just ask any Briton who remembers when American was an up-and-coming power and Rule Britannia was the way of the world.
In today’s toxic political environment, those who advocate pulling out of Afghanistan are accused of making America weaker, when just the opposite is true. Of course Obama would be attacked by his critics if he starts an Afghan pullout. But he is attacked anyway. He needs to do what is right and diminish our military presence in Afghanistan.
Our soldiers have performed admirably in Afghanistan. But even General Petraeus says there is no military solution. So what are they still doing there? It’s time to bring the troops home.