Leaving close to 10,000 troops in Afghanistan beyond 2014 is a bad decision
Much debate and controversy has been going on in the press regarding your “withdrawal” of troops from Afghanistan. The main issue of contention is coming from anti-war voices who are critical of your decision to leave 9,800 troops on combat duty beyond the year 2014. Mr. President, I too am among those critics.
I am not attacking you, as your die-hard supporters state, because you aren’t progressive enough. I am not criticizing your policy in Afghanistan because it isn’t getting us much results, while continuing to cost billions of tax dollars. For the most part, I am critical because of your basic campaign pledge of “change” has certainly not held up in the realms of foreign policy.
Yes, I understand that you technically did promise to ramp up the war in Afghanistan in exchange for winding down Iraq operations. I also know that you have enacted a much more nuanced foreign policy (in certain regards) than your predecessor, George W. Bush. Compared to Bush’s cowboy adventurism, yours seems tame, so I guess things changed in that sense. However, the basic structure and scheme of interests for the military-industrial complex still remain, and almost nothing has been seriously done to reign in its power. In fact, I argue things have gotten slightly worse.
About Afghanistan, specifically, the American people clearly see the failures and shortcomings of the war. Afghanistan is still in the same miserable situation we found it in when we first intervened back in 2001-2002. Afghanistan is nowhere close to any form of long-term state stability without a permanent presence of US/NATO troops. The Taliban, despite Western media assertions, is not necessarily on-the-ropes. In fact, many indicators show that the Taliban is in fact more powerful and influential now than it has been in over a decade.
In order to run Afghanistan, the nation is effectively governed by warlords backed by their own private armies, who in turn are backed by American troops. These warlords make their own rules. While there is supposed to be a vague constitutional order in the country, warlords are described as “governors” in different regions. It is clear that by no means do these men share full interest with the Afghan Government. Afghans vote, but in the end the ones with the guns will continue to make their own rules, and act as they choose.
The US military operation has not pieced Afghanistan together, Mr. President. We effectively have an Afghanistan completely dependent on us for its survival, and is in no shape to change anytime soon. We still see many Afghans turning on us, even now, including armed men whom we believed to be our allies. How many reports of Afghan police or troops attacking American units do I hear? These are not isolated incidents, nor are they going to subside.
The decision to keep 9,800 troops will do no good Mr. President. Afghanistan was not stable when 100,000 boots were on the ground. You have to realize that wasting more and more money and material to hold together a failed state will not enhance our security. I know critics will think that I am naive, that I don’t understand the nature of foreign policy, and that I have to be “careful” in how I judge policy actions. I’ve heard it all before.
Even when you claim we will leave, we still intend to maintain a presence and strong ties to the warlords to continue the war against the Taliban in our stead. Your voters desire to see us leave, not look for more ways to stay. In Iraq, even when you promised to end the war, you looked for a way to stay longer and were told no by the Iraqis. All the pomp and fake debate only exposes that you have fallen into the same pit with the military-machine. My words may seem harsh, but I have to call it the way I see it.
Mr. President, I realize that foreign policy is not easy. I understand that the overall mess was not of your design. Yet, you have the power to end our involvement once and for all. Ending the wars and the brokers that feed them was more than an election year issue. I know you won’t do anything major to end our war in Afghanistan. Even as you claim we shall leave, we will never truly be out. Just like in Iraq. Nothing will drive us away completely.