“President Obama has announced the long-awaited drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan will begin next month. The president told a national TV audience last week that 10,000 troops will be brought home by the end of the year, and that by next summer, 33,000 personnel will have been withdrawn.
Obama told the nation: “The tide of war is receding.”
Apparently, Afghan insurgents haven’t gotten the message.
No less than the luxury Inter-Continental Hotel in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, came under siege by militants this week, and by the time the siege ended a day later, 20 people were dead. Among the slain were nine suicide attackers and 11 civilians.
This latest slaughter didn’t take place in some rural area of the country where security has never been demonstrated. These killings occurred in the capital city, supposedly a safe haven. The truth is, there’s no such thing as a safe haven in this landlocked piece of treacherous real estate, even after nearly 10 years of U.S. involvement.
It is here that the Afghan army and police are expected to gradually assume responsibility for securing people and property as the U.S. reduces its military presence over the next three years.
That’s a grand delusion.
This was hardly what the United States bargained for when this adventure began a decade ago. The war was launched in response to the attacks of Sept. 11. The objectives then were to get Osama bin Laden, destroy his al-Qaida terrorist network and replace the hated Taliban with a democratic form of government. Bin Laden just recently was neutralized … in neighboring Pakistan. Al-Qaida apparently has shifted its base of operations elsewhere, probably Yemen. The Taliban, meanwhile, remain a formidable force in a country that historically has defied stable, central government. Great Britain and the former Soviet Union learned only too well the folly of military involvement here. It’s curious how the United States government ever concluded that it could effect a different outcome.
We believe withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan is the correct strategy going forward. It should be accelerated beyond what the president has outlined, because even after the withdrawals over the next year, some 70,000 U.S. troops will remain. The bleeding must be stopped and quickly, because it is bleeding without a purpose. Nothing short of a miracle — not more casualties, not more billions — will produce a lasting, positive outcome in Afghanistan.
The evidence suggests no other conclusion.”