Obama’s hasty Afghanistan withdrawal risks squandering gains

June 23, 2011

(The views expressed in this column are the author’s own and do not represent those of Reuters)

U.S. military commanders on the ground in Afghanistan had reportedly requested a slower pace of withdrawal to afford them the opportunity to consolidate recent gains against Taliban insurgents.  President Obama has denied his military commanders flexibility to determine the pace and scope of withdrawal based on conditions on the ground, and instead appears to have based his decision largely around the U.S. domestic political calendar.

The plan for rapidly withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan also risks upending the major achievement of eliminating Osama bin Laden across the border in Pakistan.

Bin Laden’s death and an aggressive drone campaign in Pakistan’s tribal border areas have put al Qaeda on its back foot.  The administration deserves credit for accomplishing this crucial objective, but it is short-sighted to use bin Laden’s death as justification for hastening the U.S. troop drawdown in Afghanistan.

Announcing rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces will likely bolster the morale of the Taliban and encourage them to stick with the fight.  Since al Qaeda has not yet dissolved as an organisation and its relationship with the Taliban remains strong, reducing military pressure on the Taliban in Afghanistan could benefit al Qaeda and provide it a lifeline at a critical juncture in the fight against terrorism.

The withdrawal plan will signal to both our Afghan allies and enemy forces that the U.S. is more committed to withdrawing its forces than the long-term goal of stabilising the country. The U.S. made a grave error in turning its back on Afghanistan after the Soviets departed in 1989. President Obama’s speech will stoke fears that the U.S. is getting ready to repeat a similar mistake.

Obama’s announcement on rapid troop withdrawals from Afghanistan will further discourage Pakistan from cracking down on the Taliban leadership that finds sanctuary on its soil. The speech will reinforce Islamabad’s calculation that the U.S. is losing resolve in the fight in Afghanistan and thus encourage Pakistani military leaders to continue to hedge on support to the Taliban to protect their own national security interests.


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With America struggling to pay it’s bills, Republicans refusing to raise taxes, and everything from education, police, medicare, social security on the chopping block, it’s ludicrous that the same advocates of cutting spending are the same forces pushing to continue to spend wildly in Afghanistan.
Afghanistan is a 10 billion dollars a month habit that the pentagon and generals cannot kick.
The President delivered a modest move in the right direction.
In reality, Afghanistan has become a permanent foreign welfare case that will never stand up on it’s own. It’s weighted down by corrupt leaders , tribal infighting and a security force that is incapable of providing security even after ten years of training and financial support from the US taxpayers.
In the spirit of budget cutting, I join the majority of Americans who say “Bring the troops home. End the waste.”

In the words of Mitt Romney “One lesson we‘ve learned in Afghanistan is that Americans cannot fight another nation’s war of independence.”

Posted by Naksuthin | Report as abusive

Toward the end of his speech tonight, Obama obviously felt the need to pathetically claim, “We stand not for empire” — which is clearly an admission that he feels a need to emphasize and, without the slightest proof, reinforce this ridiculous claim that the US is not acting as a global Empire.

As Shakespeare famously wrote of the human nature of the guilty “(S)he protesteth too much”.

So tonight, the ever smooth Obama, seems clearly to be protesting too much about an issue that a fast increasing number of Americans beyond Chomsky, Bacevich, Berman, Parenti, Kolko, Chalmers Johnson, Korten, Hedges, Harvey, Hardt, Wolin, Zinn, et al have known for years. That our former country is now the seminal part of a disguised global corporate/financial/militarist Empire, which hides behind the facade of its bought and paid for Two-Party “Vichy” sham of democratic government.

Which means that today even the faux-Emperor himself seems to know that he has no clothes on, and that the global Empire that he fronts for is today becoming very naked to very many people here and abroad.

So, tonight’s speech by faux-Emperor/president, Obama, was very good news for all of us who know that our former and now captive country “stands precisely for Empire” — although “we” certainly do not!

Alan MacDonald
Sanford, Maine

Liberty & democracy

New America People’s Party 2012

Posted by amacd | Report as abusive

[…] present on the negotiating table. I personally already have a deep sense of foreboding about the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan; at best the move seems to be hasty, at worst, cynical and extremely selfish, now […]

Posted by The New (un)Holy Land | The Diplomacist | Report as abusive