The Commonwealth Comment

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Afghanistan, Time to Finish the Job

On Tuesday evening, President Obama set out on keeping one of his main promises, refocusing the United States' attention on Afghanistan.

In the face of vicious conservative critics who relentlessly screamed about the president taking his time on making a decision on the next move in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama kept his cool. At West Point, he laid out a plan for an additional 30,000 U.S. soldiers on the group in Afghanistan, in addition to several thousand more NATO ally troops. He also noted that depending on the situation like to handover control of the war torn country's security to Afghan forces, and begin withdrawal of troops in July 2011.

Here's my take:

The president has angered folks on either side of the aisle. Conservatives who have been praying for the president to fail, are actually willing to support him. But, they're shouting that he should not have set a date for a troop other words don't have an exit another country the U.S. is currently occupying. Scare tactics at their worst.

Liberals are upset with sending thousands of soldiers to Afghanistan to fight terrorist cells and the oppressive Taliban, both of which have reemerged in the country since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. They would rather focus on the domestic agenda.

In my mind, President Obama has made the right call. For the last six years, Afghanistan has been virtually ignored in the shadow of Iraq. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have come back along the boarder or Pakistan, and pose a greater threat. The addition of 30,000 troops will help dismantle and destroy the terrorist group's operations and force the Taliban out again. In 2001, U.S. forces accomplished these goals in a matter of months, and practically had Osama bin Laden in their grasps. But, the Bush administration took their eye off the ball.

Setting a timetable for the transfer of power and the withdrawal of troops is necessary. It signals to the people of the United States that the government is committed to ending the conflict. But more importantly, it sends a strong message to the people of Afghanistan that the United States is not an occupying power, and to the Afghan government that the country and its security will soon be its own responsibility.

It may be hard to realize it in the midst of an economic recovery, becommitting the country to Afghanistan is extremely important if we as a nation are truly determined to defeat Al-Qaeda. In the 1980s, when the United States helped the Afghans defeat the occupying Soviet Union, we made a major mistake. We did not follow through and help the Afghan people establish infrastructure and build their country. It left Afghanistan's government, but more importantly, its people vulnerable to Islamic extremism and anti-American sentiment.

After 8 long years of this war, and 6 years of little or no progress, it is time to finish the job.

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