|Economy will change military policies|
|Friday, 01 July 2011 10:04|
Not surprisingly, President Obama’s announcement last week to begin withdrawing over 30,000 U.S. troops sent to Afghanistan in the December 2009 surge, has created controversy. Left-wingers are complaining that the troop withdrawal isn’t enough as most prefer the U.S. pulling out of Afghanistan completely. The right wing views the troop withdrawal as a concession that America is losing the war in Afghanistan.
Truthfully, the war isn’t one America seems to be winning. Like the British and Russians in years past, the U.S. has found trying to restore Democracy in Afghanistan is a virtually unsolvable exercise. The topography of the land and the resilience of Afghans, especially members of the Taliban, make victory, if not impossible, highly unlikely. Why should the U.S. retain hundreds of troops in a country where (although emerging terrorist groups still present a formidable international threat) absolute victory in an over-10-year war, seem unlikely.
The Afghan war is one that Obama pursued reluctantly. Candidate Obama campaigned against the “most unnecessary war” in Iraq and promised to withdraw troops that were commissioned to Iraq and send to Afghanistan with the objective of escalating that war and getting out sooner than later.
It happened so soon in his presidency, that some may have forgotten that Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel committee saw in the president a man with tendencies to be a global peacemaker, not a global warmonger; and he has shown he is not.
Soon after withdrawing troops from Iraq, U.S. generals in Afghanistan requested additional troops to assist in eradicating the Taliban. The president was criticized for dithering before deploying the additional 33,000 troops. When he did so, he stated he would begin withdrawing the surge troops in July, 2011. Now he has kept his promise, announcing 10,000 troops will be withdrawn later this year and the remainder by November 2012.
The president’s right wing critics, see the date for complete troop withdrawal as a blatant political strategy by the president, since it coincides with the November 6, 2012 presidential elections.
This time the cynics may be right, because Obama has proven to be an extremely shrewd politician. But the decision to withdraw the remaining troops by November 2012 is only a tiny part of the president’s political strategy.
The Obama administration continues to grapple with one of the most challenging economic crisis in U.S. history. The economy hasn’t improved much since January 2009. The national deficit keeps growing, with a large percentage, due to the high cost of the war in Afghanistan. This must be a constant reminder to the president and his team. For Obama to be re-elected, the economy must improve soon.
Because of the economic challenges, the U.S. can no longer remain as the global defender, or the builder of democratic nations. Like Obama said in announcing the troop withdrawal, “We must begin with nation building at home.”
The building of the American nation has slowed to almost a crawl because of deepening economic fissures across the national landscape. We risk widening, by fighting prolonged wars. The economic cost, and the cost of lives, is much too high to perpetuate involvement in these wars.
When the surge was announced in 2009, there was the opinion, shared by this newspaper, that it was needed to launch an aggressive blitz on the Taliban, crippling them as well as al Qaeda. But after some 18 months, the Taliban still remains a formidable foe, although al Qaeda has been weakened. Remarkably, some 1,600 U.S. troops have been killed in Afghanistan since 2001 and 12,000 injured, and the Taliban is still fighting back.
Contrary to right wing conservative opinion, led by the voice of Senator John McCain, pulling troops out of Afghanistan doesn’t signal defeat for the U.S. Some 70,000 troops will still remain in that country; enough to continue the battle against the Taliban, protect the Afghan people, and assist the Afghan government to build an internal security force. It’s inevitable that the vast majority of U.S. troops in Afghanistan will have to leave that nation. The fact is, America cannot afford the cost in finances or lives in keeping its troops in a protracted war without a definite end game.
The situation is also similar in Libya. In hindsight, when the U.S. decided to enter Libya with its allies, an aggressive attempt should have been made to eliminate Moammar Gadhafi and his army. Instead, months after, Gadhafi is still entrenched, while the civil war persists with significant loss of life to civilians. Last week the U.S. House voted to refuse to give congressional consent to U.S. participation with NATO forces in Libya, but voted to fund the mission. This is understandable, because the U.S. cannot renege on its obligations in NATO. But, the Obama administration must also seriously evaluate its mission in Libya. Additionally, America has to seriously evaluate the worth of its military excursions against the building of a strong national economy.
|Last Updated on Friday, 01 July 2011 10:30|