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  • Morning Bell: The Debate over the War in Afghanistan

    The killing of Osama bin Laden was a hard-won victory for the United States, but the gains made in pursuit of that day of justice and in waging the war in Afghanistan–including putting al-Qaeda on its heels–could be squandered if the Obama Administration continues its plotted course. When Republican presidential candidates lay out their foreign policy agendas in next Tuesday’s debate hosted by The Heritage Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute on CNN, they should pay significant attention to this seminal war that is so crucial to America’s struggle against terrorism.

    In June, President Barack Obama announced his decision to bring home 10,000 troops by the end of this year and a total of 33,000 troops by next summer–despite requests from the Pentagon and General David Petraeus to limit the initial withdrawal to 3,000 to 4,000, as the Los Angeles Times reported. That decision, as The Washington Post wrote, wasn’t based in a “convincing military or strategic rationale.” Rather, it was “at odds with the strategy adopted by NATO, which aims to turn over the war to the Afghan army by the end of 2014.”

    At the time, Heritage’s Lisa Curtis wrote that, apart from denying his military commanders flexibility to determine the pace and scope of withdrawal based on conditions on the ground, the President “also risks upending the major achievement of eliminating Osama bin Laden across the border in Pakistan.” Curtis also noted that the decision would “further discourage Pakistan from cracking down on the Taliban leadership that finds sanctuary on its soil” and “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.”

    Unfortunately, after the President’s decision, the United States reaped a bitter harvest sown by the Pakistani government. On September 13, the U.S. embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, was attacked, and reports revealed that those responsible were linked to Pakistani intelligence officials. Then, in testimony before Congress, Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, declared that Pakistan’s military intelligence service is directing the Haqqani network, a militant group responsible for attacks on Americans, including the assault on the embassy.

    Sadly, Pakistan’s support of insurgent groups in Afghanistan is the most significant obstacle to achieving stability in the country, and refusal by the Pakistani military to take action against the Haqqani network seriously undermines U.S. and NATO success in the Afghan mission. And that mission is critical to the United States’ continued prosecution of the war against terrorists. Heritage’s James Carafano and Jessica Zuckerman explain why that war is central to America’s global response to terrorism:

    Al-Qaeda’s core leadership remains in Pakistan’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, and the Taliban (whose leadership is allied with al-Qaeda) continues to threaten stability in Afghanistan. In order to stop terrorism at its source, the U.S. must remain committed to its counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan, which aims to prevent the Taliban from regaining influence in the region.

    There are steps that the White House should take to ensure success in Afghanistan, and they revolve around dealing with the main obstacle to progress: Pakistan. First and foremost, the U.S. should reverse its withdrawal plan in order to show Pakistan that America is not turning its back on the region and to ensure that there is no void that the Taliban can once again fill.

    Next, since half of all supply routes to the NATO mission go through Pakistan, the U.S. should develop additional supply routes into Afghanistan. In response to the attack on the U.S. embassy, the U.S. should freeze aid until Pakistan takes actions against perpetrators of the attack and helps shut down the Haqqani network, designate the Haqqani network a foreign terrorist organization, establish a congressional commission to investigate Pakistan’s role in fomenting the insurgency in Afghanistan and the extent to which its actions are preventing the U.S. and NATO from achieving their security objectives in the region, and pursue an aggressive drone campaign against the Haqqani network.

    There is much at stake in the war in Afghanistan, and Americans–particularly the brave men and women in uniform–have already made tremendous sacrifices. But their sacrifices should not be rendered meaningless for the sake of scoring political victories at home. The United States has made significant strides in the war against terrorism, but the President–and those who seek the White House–must realize that unless the U.S. changes course, America will slide backward in its mission to secure itself against those who would do us harm.

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    Posted in Security [slideshow_deploy]

    35 Responses to Morning Bell: The Debate over the War in Afghanistan

    1. victor barney says:

      It's not going to end well either, especially for anglo-saxon men! Nobody wants to believe that there is a earthly first-born blood covenant going on bewteen Lucider, Cain, and Evil, I mean Eve and death! No? Watch!

    2. Philip Doolittle says:

      STOP ANY & ALL support to Pakistan! Why are we SUPPORTING OUR ENEMY ?

      • Robert, TX says:

        Yes, imagine if we routed all of our Vietnam supplies through Cambodia! To think we were 7-0 before we moved the military into the pentagon. Since that move, we are 1-6-1, with Grenada being our sole victory.

      • @TklShriram says:

        We, In India are crying from the roof top about the Pakistani's involvement in all sorts of terrorism in this region for decades. But US never bothered about this and has given all kinds of support, especially when the Democrats were in power. When it starts hurting the US interests, it is the singing the same tune that we did. Anyway, better late than never. It is high time, US force its influence on Pakistan to mend its ways. Pakistan will never allow peace to return in that area, as it uses Taliban, Haqqani network as a leverage against India to ferment trouble. A failed Pakistan, which already it is, is a danger to the whole planet as nuclear weapons might fall into the hands of Islamic rouges who are in plenty in that country.

    3. Dan says:

      Obama is fixed on one item and that is ti be re-elected, I would think it is time to look at putting military bases where the threat is the most and the middle east is for sure one of those places, I am not sure we still need a base in Germany any longer but this is way we have Generals and military ad-visors for, if Obama would listen to someone and quite thinking he knows all.

    4. toledofan says:

      I think that our foriegn policy or the lack of one is a debacle in itself. What is just amazing is that if things weren't so serious, our policy would be like watching a skit on Saturday Night Live.

    5. Robert, TX says:

      What debate? This mission is a massive failure for both presidents, both Congresses and all of the military leaders (our brave troops do not fail). The new Vietnam, only worse. We put the first real forces into Vietnam in 1965, and Nixon started wholesale withdrawals in 1969. We have been in Afghanistan for ten ridiculous years (and don't waste my time with "advisor" replies – we've had "advisors" in Afghanistan for 30 years!). I miss the 50's, back when we called a spade a spade; we called failure a failure; and we still prosecuted for treason! Bring all the troops home, since no one in DC has enough "brass" to lead them properly. Vietnam = failure. Beirut = failure. Iraq = failure. Somalia = failure. Afghanistan = failure.

    6. John D. Schutt says:

      Our soldiers have fought bravely and paid the ultimate sacrifice to defeat terror on many foreign soils, successfully at times and not as successfully at others. Although I have always supported such efforts, I wonder if we would not be better off bringing all of our troops home and have them police the borders and points of entry to the US as our Israeli friends do. Would it not be better to "lock the door" at home, than to run around the world looking for our enemies?,

    7. sdfultz says:

      As a retired American Soldier, married to an active military member. I would suggest that Lisa Curtis and her supporting commentators join the military or run for President, but until they have experienced the futile fight against the somewhat primitive people of that region, they should keep their opinions to themselves.
      We have accomplished what we went for, Osama and many of his supporters.
      The ideals that motivate the people in that region are based in thousands of years of religious ideology.
      America has no responsibility to change that. We are willing and able to defend ourselves and offend any perpetrators that threaten the United States. We cannot be held hostage by these competing forces within the people of this region. Until there is an uprising by these people in an effort to raise themselves from the bondage of their religious captures there's nothing more we can do for them.

    8. ThomNJ says:

      "establish a congressional commission"…….I have to say that ONE meeting with the Joint Chiefs or a presentation by the same and the Congress ought to resolve that – no need for yet another commission wasting time and money.

      • Michael Wensink says:

        Tom, Congress establishes commissions to blame someone else for their mistakes. We have certainly wasted enough money.

    9. Jack Joyce says:

      The Taliban is a fluid organizational term denoting fundamentalist Islamic groups centered on localities, regions, countries, and as many philosophical shadings as there are influential opinion makers. To the Pakistanis the Afghanistan Taliban is an ally in their enduring conflict with India over Kashmir and in general their fear of Indian encroachment. The home grown Pakistani Taliban has become so entrenched as to make the army more prone to negotiate than enter into the Pakistani against Pakistani conflict a serious crackdown would entail.
      When we speak of The Taliban as a singular, identifiable enemy organization and try to concoct effective strategies to combat their encroachment, influence and cooperation with Al Qaeda our policies are doomed to failure because they fail to acknowledge the complexity of the problem.
      As in Africa where the emergence of tribal cultures into Western Civilization has been fraught with tragic loss of life so to is it with the Middle East where tribal, feudal and empiric organization remains ingrained in peoples re-organized by the West into political entities that fail to reflect the realities of popular sentiment.
      We cannot assume that our political interests are synonymous with that of other nations but must, if we are to achieve our ends, first understand the aspirations of friend and foe as we craft or policies.
      The trouble with Pakistan and Afghanistan for us is the absence of a there, some sort of uniform political entity, with which to deal. We must remember that just as in our country all politics are local for our allies and enemies alike.
      When we see the situation clearly our decisions will have a better chance of achieving the result we desire. In my view the ball now is in India's court as she is the dominant democratic power which has suffered terrorist attacks generated from the fundamentalist camp.

    10. Bob Grenier says:

      Maybe this analysis is correct, but Afghanistan has been a quagmire for other countries in the past. None were able to succeed – the British and Russians in particular. The Russian exit strategy included turning control over to the Afghan army – that was not very successful, was it? We have been there longer and still have not succeeded – will another couple of years bring success? I doubt it.

    11. America needs to be involved in rebuilding its economic infrastructure. Our military can subjugate just about any Nation in the world in a real war. Our military will suffer from economic strife and subsequent decline if we do not correct the financial problems that are destroying our Country.

      • @TklShriram says:

        I do agree with this that America needs to fine tune its economy. But apart from America, no other country in this planet has the military might and financial clout to defeat the Talibans and other deadly terror groups in this Af-Pak Region which is very vital for the world peace. There is every chance of another September 11 attacks as the terrorists are fully determined to spread hate and violence. The other option for US will be to encourage India to take part further in Afganisthan, for its nation building activity, which it is doing by constructing Roads, bridges, Power plants, Schools and also training the Afganistan Police. Unfortunately, pakistan could not tolerate this and putting all sorts of pressure to wean away India for any meaningful activity. The Locals there Love Indians but hate Pakistanis. US, must encourage India to participate further in to Afganisthan till normality returns there. But, this is a wild dream.

    12. Clearhead says:

      Failures being what they are cannot be reversed. As for the situation at hand, there appears to be a person in our gubmint who is willing to trade countless American lives, years and dollars for the political reward for……"See, I brought them home!" Such a disgusting scenario defies polite civilized comment. And ROBERT, TX, you forgot to mention one more drastic failure.

    13. Terry L Barton says:

      Afghanistan….Viet Nan. Similiar? Corrupt goverment that doesn't care for the people who just want to be left alone to grow their rice (poppies) Blood and treasure poured out for what? No end in sight..how about the narcissistic Muslin in in the White House direct the show to be shut down, save lives and money and let the indigenious personnel have their damn country. Don't blame the firemen, blame t, as 'Namhe fire. I hate fire as well, but I love and respect the firemen.
      Former Marine, 57-60 and 'Nam with BAS, 1/7th Marines

      • Michael Wensink says:

        Terry, you got it right, how long until DC tries to blame the firemen. Never forget the truth.

    14. Casey Carlton says:

      Barack "Politics First" Obama continues to appease his base.

    15. Wayne Adamson says:

      I find it discouraging that the Afghan government is embracing Islam as the model rather than a democratic society. It seems difficult to imagine that anything good will ever come out of a country governed under Sharia laws, despite how many troops are maintained there. The problem is that we are going to have to maintain forces there indefinitely I'm afraid. There are good people in the country, many of them women, who need our help to be able to live a productive life without fear of rape, beatings, and murder. I support one such nonprofit that has been working to help those women: Women for Afghan Women.

    16. Jaime Calva says:

      I do not believe that the war against terroris can ever end until we identify the sources funding Taliban, Al Qaeida, Hamas, etc and deal appropriately with them. Shut off the funding and they will disintegrate.

      We have not brought one war to a clonclusion since the advent of the Unitee Natiions.

    17. tvv says:

      If we aren't going to close our borders here at home, then sending our finest overseas to fight is shameful. With a porous border our enemies will be with us.

    18. Al Connelly says:

      Is there any surprise regarding this president's actions? He is playing politics to gain liberal support a be re-elected regardless of the outcome to the present or future events affecting our country or our allies. It is his unwillingness to stand up for our country and speak out against those countries that pretend to be our ally while supporting terrorist activity aimed at destroying our country and our freedom. The only true solution is to rid our country of this president and his cronies before they destroy all that we are and represent.

    19. Jeanne Stotler says:

      A CIC that has no military background, in fact his back ground is just the opposite, We need a strong head in the Defense dept. as well as the off shoots , Navy, Army etc. No one seems to win in Afghanistan, the Russian s tried and finally withdrew, the British also tried, NOW is the time for us to get out, keep our bases where they are needed , close all others, reinforce our borders here at home, reopen Homestead AFB, it's crucial to defending our southern Atlantic border, and STOP sending financial aid to countries that hate us. Now OPEN an investigation in to WHY we've been sending money to China, then BORROW it back instead of asking for a payback. Charity begins at home, take care of Americans first, then if we have it we can help others.

    20. Dr. Henry Sinopoli says:

      Continue to praise life-long politicians like Boehner & the other guys who have been in power forever, and by the way continue to get rich from insider trading, leave Congress, then become influence peddlers for China, Bob Dole & others…and expect something different. Foreign policy, deaths of American troops are just by-products of our politicians getting rich…Follow the money…

      Obama is the socialist out front…but all the others are feeding from the stupidity of the collective voters.

    21. paul says:

      I ,as an independent, disagree with the author of this article. we should bring all our troops
      home from Iraq and afghanistan immediately. These people have been fighting with each
      other for hundred of years. There is nothing we can do to help. Furthermore, they look at
      our troops as "enemiies or occupational army". The cost is exceeding one trillion dollars already.
      That is part of our national debt-courtesy of former president Geoge Bush. Mr. Obama just
      got a bad draw of cards. I agree with his efforts to get us out and to rebuilt our own country.
      The future cost of these troop recovery affected by PTSD will be in the billions. The equipment
      replacement cost will be in the multi-billions.

    22. The Farmer GR MI says:

      The last 5 wars including the 2 we are in now are efforts of very unwise Presidents (very foolish) Yes I did support those wars, but first I was young and foolish and uninformed and now I willingly admit my ignorance.
      We continue to send our young folks off to battle our enemies, while denying them the where-with-all to prevail with little or no bloodshed.
      Can anyone imagine how short the Korean and Vietnam wars would have been if we would have put their enemies on notice that we have equipted our alies with neuclear wepons?
      How about if we would have carpet-bombed Ben Laden"s camp?
      If we would have kept our nose out of it when one Muslem country invaded another Muslem country the middle East would have been so busy fighting with each other we wouldn't have even had our tower destroyed.

    23. paul says:

      this war is costing billions yearly. in the midst of economic crisis, we should pull our troops
      from Iraq and Afghanistan immediately. the long term cost of healing the troops affected by
      PTSD and the equipment replacement cost will be in the multi-billions. A strong foreign
      policy can be supported by an strong economy only. We don't have the strong economy.
      In the meantime, our infrastructures are falling down. Our eductional system needs the
      funding. we cannot be the world's policemen anymore. Besides, those afghans and iraqis
      even hate our presence. Ben Franklin used to say this quotation: " Fish and company feel
      rotten after three days.

    24. Donald DaCosta says:

      We will not win the war in Afghanistan and have not won the war in Iraq. Both will eventually be swallowed by the advancing army of Islam, an enemy bent on destroying the West starting with Israel and America. America will lose that war because its political and military leaders along with a determinedly clueless academia, entertainment and news media refuse to recognize or acknowledge the true nature of the threat. Repeat after me, “Islam is a religion of peace.”

      Our military has been severely hampered by politically correct rules of engagement that have likely caused the death or maiming of many of our troops in the interest of protecting non combatants and winning the hearts and minds while ignoring the reality that this enemy wears no uniform and, unless they are brandishing a weapon, impossible to distinguish from the civilian population.

      Al Qaeda, the once most prominent belligerent of the Islamic Jihadist movement, declared war on the U.S. many years ago. 9/11 was not the beginning but the most egregious attack on U.S. soil, a declaration of war, not just from a “criminal” fringe group of radical terrorist but an earnest beginning of a new, more aggressive phase in a centuries long quest by the religious proponents of a global Islamic hegemony, a quest that, despite our military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, has only strengthened and become more aggressive with the so called Arab Spring.

      While America and the West are bogged down in their misdirected war on terror the Muslim Brotherhood is rapidly growing in strength, right under our noses and Israel is increasingly in the cross hairs, now without the overt support of its formerly most ardent defender. Rather than engendering alarm our leadership continues to vacillate, seemingly and disturbingly blind to the growing threats and reacts by cozying up to the Muslim Turkish leader Tayyip Erdogan who is determined to return Turkey to it’s theocratic Islamic roots, supersede Iran as the dominant power in the Middle East and committed to the destruction of Israel.

      And amidst all of this, Iran flaunts its aggressive goals, “death to Israel” and “death to America,” and continues ever more determined to develop a nuclear weapon and the missile to carry the warhead with Israel in the crosshairs.

      And we bicker over Pakistan and Obama makes militarily significant decisions concerning boots on the ground, ignoring objections from his generals, based on political calculations, possible Muslim sympathies and blatant ineptitude.

      America and the West are in very big trouble.

    25. Blair Franconia, NH says:

      Are the Afghans ready to take over their own defense in three years? We'll see.

    26. me3tv says:

      One of the key issues here is the worldwide financial crisis. Europe is crippled. Europe wants no more expenses on top of its socialist failings. The USA is limping economically. War expenses are not popular. The Middle East is a zone of power struggle for oil in the middle ot tribalism and radical religious sects. Reducing the expenditure on defense and the Afghanistan issue is not a solution to our economic or our security issues. The unemployment issues exacerbated by Obama's job's killing initiatives on the continent – will be inflamed by further reductions in military emplyment. The security issues regarding the radicals in the world will worsen as radicals see America bow away from the fight.

    27. William R. Barker says:

      Well, it seems that once again the "professional conservatives" of the "conservative media" (WSJ) and "conservative think tanks" (Heritage in this case) are way, way, way out of step with the majority of ACTUAL conservatives like ourselves who know that if a "war" can't be "won" in 10 years… well… then it can't be "won."

      Yeah… call me a "defeatist." Yep… folks like us are "clearly unAmerican," just like… uh… George Washington and Dwight David Eisenhower. (Funny how when the war party laments that we "don't listen to our generals" that Generals Washington and Eisenhower are so rarely mentioned.)

      The sad truth is, at this point, each casualty we suffer in Iraq or Afghanistan is a waste. Our men and women and our national treasure are being needlessly and cruelly sacrificed in a political "game" and while it pains me to say this, our corporatized military leadership is largely to blame in the sense that once it became clear to them that we wouldn't be ALLOWED to "win" by any realistic measure, they should have threatened to resign in mass and go straight to the American People absent immediate change.

      They didn't. They haven't. They won't. Such is the ethical corruption within the "ruling class" – even within the military.

    28. Chris Andreas says:

      While I certainly agree that nothing good can come from the current occupant of the White House, I have a simple question that needs answering: Just how long is America to remain in Afghanistan? We have been there for ten years and have not yet won. For how many more years must our young brave men and women fight and give their blood in a nation that neither the British nor the Russians could defeat in their decade long wars. What will it take to win this war and get our troops out of there? Another ten years is unacceptable.

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