Those who disagree with these fact as well as those who debate whether or not there was any justification for our efforts in Iraq, will simply have to continue to try and deny that both missions have been accomplished.
They will also have to continue to try and deny the fact that President Obama saw the need to continue with President Bush’s Iraqi policy and timeline in the very same war which President Obama so vehemently opposed prior to becoming President and having knowledge of all the facts. They will also have to continue to try and deny the ten legitimate reasons given for removing Saddam which included his continuous violations of the terms of the cease fire agreement that Saddam signed with the United States in order to end the first Iraqi war. Those who disagree with the war effort in Iraq and the reasons for it must also try to deny that a great deal of long-term success has been achieved in Iraq.
As those, like President Obama, who continue to disagree with our efforts in Iraq begin to lose their will to continue arguing against the legitimacy of removing Saddam and creating a stable government in Iraq, they start to focus on Afghanistan with slowly increasing calls for the withdrawal of our forces from this unconquered nation.
But before we just pull a Soviet style retreat let us look at the Iraqi war which is winding down due to the achievement of many of our goals there.
After we successfully removed Saddam Hussein, a new battle began. We had to fight the hidden resurgents who tried to exploit the instability and vacuum that existed once Saddam was not in control. As the resurgents doubled up on their efforts with heightened suicide bombings and the increased use of IED and attacks on coalition forces, the rising violence in Iraq began to spur more and more calls to end our war effort there, and to withdraw our troops. As this sentiment grew, for nearly a year military commanders along with the leaders at the Pentagon and in the Bush administration debated the pros and cons of retreating or creating an American troop surge.
Before it was too late, the decision was made to send more troops in.
That decision effectively combated the resurgent enemies of the United States and the Iraqi government and it brought us to the near conclusion of the conflagration in Iraq that we are approaching today.
That same decision to increase the number of forces that we have in Afghanistan is being considered today as increased violence and the highest level of American casualties to date was just seen this past month in Afghanistan.
Currently the administration has indicated that the issue of health management and care reform is the top priority and everything else will take a back seat to that. White House spokesman Robert Gibbs stated that a decision on increased troops in Afghanistan is “weeks and weeks away”
Such a call is, to me, a flagrant example of irresponsibility and carelessness. If the administration does not yet know where we stand in Afghanistan, they are inept and should not be in power. If they feel that our efforts in Afghanistan are not getting us anywhere and that it has little point, then the administration needs to withdraw our troops immediately. If the professional legislative leaders believe our cause in Afghanistan is not worthy and is impossible, than it is incumbent upon them to end the effort now, before more money is wasted and American lives are lost.
However: based on the fact that, ever since he took office, President Obama has failed to even consider reducing the number of forces that we have in Afghanistan and since he stated that our efforts there are necessary one would believe that based on the both the public and private information available to him, a stable Afghanistan is both a valid international and national security issue that he believes we can not simply abandon. Such is probably why the President has already increased our presence in Afghanistan by 21,000 troops.
Therefore, as the top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, is expected to ask for a complete do-over of the Bush administration’s strategy to fight the Iraqi war in Afghanistan and ask President Obama for even more forces, I believe it is in the interest of our nation for President Obama to not put off a decision on Afghanistan for “weeks and weeks”. Weeks and weeks lead to months and months and as we saw in Iraq, months of delay only prolong things and makes it harder to accomplish the mission.
Beyond these simple facts, let us take a few moments to delve into some of the reasons there are in the near future for remaining in Afghanistan.
The reason we got involved in the first place is because under the influence of the rogue Taliban element in Afghanistan, the country became a training ground for Al Qaeda, the Islamic fundamental extremists behind 9/11. Given the fact that Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen has stated that Al Qaeda is “very capable” of attacking the United States and added “They also are able to both train and support and finance, and so that capability is still significant,” I see no acceptable leap of faith that would lead me to conclude that without our continued efforts (a).-The Taliban will be capable of wreaking enough havoc to further destabilize Afghanistan’s fledgling democracy and take control of large areas of the country. And (b).-That the Taliban will not again join forces with Al Qaeda and allow Afghanistan to become a safe haven where they will coordinate, train and launch attacks from.
That is a primary reason for our struggle in Afghanistan. You can add democracy, freedom and human rights as additional reasons but direct security concerns are the primary reason for our presence.
Now one can debate the need for us to have an on the ground military presence in Afghanistan and seek to defeat the Taliban resurgents from the air. That would sound like a compelling argument but it is not a valid one.
We cannot be sure of the establishment of a secure, responsible, legitimate government in Afghanistan until the Afghan people are secure. Secure from the ravages of the Taliban and other lawless elements who rape the resources of the nation and its people. Such security cannot be provided by the dropping of bombs from the air. It requires boots on the ground.
Until there is an efficient and effective civilian run military and police force in Afghanistan, we must provide what is needed to create the right conditions for us to withdraw under. Forming a capable Afghan military and police force is not easy in a country where 9 out of 10 of their soldiers do not know how to read. So this is going to take time.
In the mean time, it is important to understand that the most difficult problem in Afghanistan is not too much security, it is too little security. That is why more troops are required. The lack of existing security in Afghanistan combined with its physical and political volatility make such things as education, aid, and infrastructure development nearly impossible. Unless of course security is provided and the necessary training and assistance in developing their own proper security element is achieved. With enough troops this can be done. Not tomorrow or next month but perhaps within two years time. With the approval of more troops in Afghanistan we can redistribute an adequate enough number of forces to the hotspot regions of Southern and Southeastern Afghanistan and effectively neutralize Taliban resurgents and then eliminate them. And while this happens, many of the additional forces brought in can be utilized for police training and anti-corruption measures.
Until we can provide enough forces to effectively make it impossible for Taliban backed elements of Al Qaeda and Al Qaeda backed elements of the Taliban to take root, we cannot cut and run from a new democracy that, if given the chance, can eventually become an effective ally in the region. One with a government that can become an important player in quashing terrorist elements within that region of the world.
As it is, the mountains of Pakistan, in that same general area, remain a central staging ground for groups like Al Qaeda and keeping the Pakistani government on top of them is a sensitive and difficult task for the U.S.. To have a stable allied Afghani government that assists efforts against terrorism in that part of the world will be a tremendous help to us in the long run.
On top of that, we also still have the badlands of Somalia, another ungoverned state, that pretty soon can become the terrorist breeding ground that Afghanistan once was and will again be if we don’t do the right thing.