President Obama has not announced a definitive strategy for handling the situation in Afghanistan.
Even though General McCrystal has petitioned 40,000 troops a month ago, it does not seem as if developing a good strategy in Afghanistan is a priority for our president. Instead, it seems he is thinking about the politics involved in sending more troops to Afghanistan.
White House officials claim that the president is simply taking his time to develop a good strategy, one that will guarantee our success in a war that has already been going on for almost a decade. I agree that the strategy, or lack of strategy, performed by the former administration is what led to the current chaos in Afghanistan. Not only were there no plans as to how to run Afghanistan once the Taliban was defeated, but there was no plan to fully defeat the Taliban across the whole country. The decision to invade Afghanistan was a rash decision, one made while the American public still hurt deeply about September 11, and demanded that an action, any action, be done to show that attacks such as those would not go unpunished. Clearly, the lack of strategy has resulted in the current mess that Afghanistan and our troops are in.
However, President Obama has been in office for almost a year already. Furthermore, he began working on the policies of his presidency even before he became president, as exemplified by the economic reforms he prepared Congress for so that he could sign them into action when he came into power. Yet, he keeps telling the American public that he needs more time to develop a good strategy in Afghanistan.
Listen, I’m no military expert. I cringe at the thought of learning military strategies and so forth, but I also recall how George W. Bush’s and Donald Rumsfeld’s failure to listen to our country’s generals was greatly responsible for the chaos that we have created in the Middle East. McCrystal has made it perfectly clear that he needs those 40,000 troops, and he has even clarified that this amount of troops would only cover 20 percent of Afghanistan. McCrystal knows that at least 100,000 troops are needed to gain complete control over the country, but he also realizes that he is working with politics, a limited number of troop, and a strategizing Taliban. He knows it’s not all about the numbers, but about strategy as well.
And he, the military expert, ultimately is the most knowledgeable, not a whole bunch of civilians who have never devoted a day of service to their country. Really, when it comes to deciding what the best strategy is, would you trust the inexperienced politician over the military expert?
And before I have a whole bunch of individuals sending me angry messages over how my view is insensitive to our troops and that we cannot send our young and innocent troops to die a war without a cause, let me explain my point of view. I have personal attachments to this war. My fiancé, a Southwestern graduate, will be going to Afghanistan this November, and I, more than anyone else, sometimes wish that our troops would be pulled from Iraq and Afghanistan. However, doing such a thing would make all the deaths and injuries of our troops to have been in vain. Even worse, the Taliban would reclaim power in Afghanistan and allow the reopening of training camps for Al-Qaeda. I am not trying to be a fear mongerer; I generally detest that strategy and abhorred its use of it by the Bush administration. However, the facts are the facts, and if we want to secure a better world, then extremist organizations need to be stopped, and there is no doubt that Al-Qaeda is already one of the strongest extremist terror organizations in the world. To let it rise again and cause instability in other countries, including our own, would only lead to yet another war in the area.
What Obama must realize is that we need to properly address the war in Afghanistan. We cannot let politics ruin our chance to destroy a terrorist base. We need to ensure that the people of Afghanistan have a functioning government and that we will not be attacked by individuals who trained in that area. Only when we have ensured this will it be time to draw a timeline and pull our troops out of Afghanistan.
That being said, it is clear that Obama is not really concerned about creating a successful strategy for Afghanistan. Rather, he is looking for a strategy that will not hurt his popularity even more than it already has been hurt. A good strategy for Afghanistan could have clearly been developed by now. Requests for more time after almost a year in office only indicate that this president, just like the one that preceded him, is more concerned with his image than with the safety of his country. Quite frankly, the troops sacrificing their lives and Americans living in the democracy that these soldiers are trying to defend deserve much better than politics; they deserve proper leadership.