The Afghanistan War last month became America's longest conflict, surpassing the record, eight years and seven months, set by the Vietnam War. In his Dec. 1, 2009, speech to the nation announcing the surge of troops into Afghanistan, President Barack Obama promised: "But taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011."
Now, the administration is backing away from that promise, even though it still has a year to plan for the withdrawal.
Gen. David Petraeus, the new commander in Afghanistan, said in remarks June 29 before the Senate Armed Services Committee, "My sense is that the tough fighting will continue; indeed, it may get more intense in the next few months." Speaking June 20 on Fox News Sunday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said about the July 2011 withdrawal deadline, "That absolutely has not been decided."
And McClatchy Newspapers reported June 28, "Afghanistan's military and police aren't on track to meet President Obama's 18-month timetable for starting to withdraw U.S. troops, according to a report" by the special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction.
The Afghanistan War continues to kill our troops and drain taxpayers' funds.
Yet the numbers of fighters for al-Qaida, the supposed main enemy, have dropped sharply in Afghanistan, many of them going to adjacent Pakistan. "I think, at most, we're looking at maybe 50 to 100, maybe less," remaining members of al-Qaida, CIA Director Leon Panetta said June 28 on ABC's "This Week."
Our hope would be that Gen. Petraeus will develop an exit strategy that recognizes that there likely are other, better ways of combating international terrorism than by attempting nation-building and fighting tribal powers in Afghanistan.
REPRINTED FROM THE NEW BERN SUN JOURNAL.