Thursday, June 23, 2011
Is It Time to Pull Out of Afghanistan?
By Bernie O'Hare
Right now, there are approximately 100,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan. By the end of the year, there will be 90,000. And next year, another 23,000 troops will come home, right before the election.
“America, it is time to focus on nation-building here at home,”says President Obama.
But that's not why we're there. Anybody who thinks we're in Afghanistan to raise the standards of living or improve the status of Afghan women, is nuts. We're there because we perceive it to be in our interests to be there. And for good reason.
Let me lay it out. We screwed up the balance of power in the Middle East the second we set foot in Iraq, and now there's no turning back. We've done a fine job driving that country into the arms of Iran, and while doing that, completely forgot about Afghanistan, the one country that should have worried us. As a result, the Taliban has strengthened in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.
So what? Who cares what they do, right? Wrong.
Pakistan has been completely destabilized. Things are so bad that Obama decided against telling its leaders he'd be dropping by with a Navy Seal team for bin Laden. And right after that, the Taliban waged a 12-hour attack on a Pakistan military base.
Did I mention that Pakistan has nukes? A Taliban resurgence almost guarantees that some of those nukes will fall into Taliban and al-Qaeda hands.
So what? They can't launch missiles that can reach the U.S., so who cares, right? Wrong again.
It would be amazingly easy to launch a nuke at the U.S. from a scud mounted on something as unsophisticated as a fishing trawler off the Atlantic coast.
That's why we're there. The soldiers who die there are saving countless lives here.
But there's an election coming.
LV Congressman Charlie Dent, in a statement released late last night, wants to know what the military thinks. Noting that President Obama's surge was motivated by the recommendation of military commanders, he questions whether Obama's decision is politically motivated. "I hope the President’s decision to begin drawing-down our troop presence in Afghanistan, with the goal of returning to pre-surge levels by the end of 2012, is similarly based on changing conditions on the ground and the recommendations of American commanders, rather than political advisers." Dent wants to hear from the military. "I am eager to be briefed by Department of Defense officials on today’s decision by the President and expect to receive regular updates on the effect the drawdown is having on American and Afghan security.”
Mitt Romney, a Republican presidential candidate, echoes Dent. "This decision should not be based on politics or economics. America's brave men and women in uniform have fought to achieve significant progress in Afghanistan, some having paid the ultimate price. I look forward to hearing the testimony of our military commanders in the days ahead." But there are GOP presidential contenders, like former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who want us pull out now. "We need a safe but rapid withdrawal which encourages Afghans to assume responsibility, while leaving in place a strong counter intelligence and special forces effort proportionate to the threat."
written by Bernie O'Hare, and reproduced from his blog, Lehigh Valley Ramblings