|Afghanistan: Why we can’t leave|
|Friday, 23 March 2012 11:15|
In the aftermath of the tragic shooting of 16 innocent Afghanistan citizens by lone American soldier, Army Staff Sergeant Robert Bales, America's military presence in Afghanistan is again the cause of a national debate. One viewpoint urges for full troop withdrawal before the 2014 deadline previously set by President Obama. The other side demands that troops remain, a view strongly recommended by U.S. military leaders in Afghanistan.
These recent calls for withdrawal is somewhat ironic, as those now clamoring for advanced troop withdrawal were sternly opposed to Obama's June 2011 decision to begin withdrawing the 33,000 troops between late 2011 and prior to November's general elections. The plan announced then was to leave some 70,000 troops primarily to train the Afghan security forces, preparing them to adequately undertake the peacekeeping functions performed by U.S. troops.
Although Obama dithered for weeks before deciding to send in additional troops in 2010, he heeded the advice of military leaders in Afghanistan that the Taliban and other terrorists in the country remained a potential threat to world peace and America's national security. Obama's eventual decision was made reluctantly, but it was necessary for the Taliban to be eliminated, and Afghan citizens protected.
Two year later the Taliban, although somewhat weakened, is still waging atrocities against Afghans and the American military, and hatred towards Americans has escalated among Afghan citizens. Over this tense period, the situation has also deteriorated because of other atrocities committed by American forces, including allegations of U.S. and allied artillery killing Afghan citizens, the accidental burning of the Koran, and the recent rogue soldier shooting. As anger flares against America, Afghan President Hamid Karzai wants U.S. troops to stay on their bases and out of Afghan villages. Mourning with family members of the 16 victims, Karzai prayed "for God to rescue us from these two demons," referring both to persistent Taliban insurgents and American forces.
At face-value, the overall situation warrants majority American support for the withdrawal of all U.S. troops earlier than 2014.
However, such action would again be detrimental to America's national security. The escalated anti-American sentiment rooted in the extremist Islamic militant world following the assassination of Osama bin Laden, the destabilization of al Qaeda, and the recent atrocities in Afghanistan, is fodder for terrorist attacks against America and its global interests. It would be extremely irresponsible for the U.S. to fully retreat from Afghanistan and risk anti-American terrorism to again grow and develop into another attack on American soil.
American forces originally invaded Afghanistan to crush then ruling militant group the Taliban, which intelligence showed sheltered the terrorist group al Qaeda and its leader Osama bin Laden, responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. one of the reasons for the war's spotty success was the divergence of U.S. forces to Iraq, resulting in the resurgence of the Taliban. To leave Afghanistan now would further deepen the wound of this fatal mistake.
It is important for some troops to remain and restore Afghan confidence towards America, continue to deter Taliban might, and strengthen Afghan security forces. This is a very challenging, difficult and painful task, but absolutely necessary for America's long-term national security.