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  • State of the Union: President Obama Glossed over Afghan War

    In listening to the State of the Union, you would never know that the U.S. still has close to 100,000 troops fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan. While President Obama highlighted U.S. gains against al-Qaeda and the significance of the raid that eliminated Osama bin Laden last May, he downplayed the challenges that remain in Afghanistan.

    President Obama merely said he was “winding down the war,” giving the false impression that the U.S. can depart Afghanistan on an arbitrary timetable without any costs to its national security. This paints a misleading picture of the situation.

    President Obama needs to be up front with the American people about the risks of a precipitous withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan. A hasty troop drawdown could lead to a civil war and the Taliban regaining influence in the country, which would strengthen Islamist militant forces in both Afghanistan and Pakistan and provide the conditions for al-Qaeda to revive in the region.

    The military gains made against the Taliban over the last eighteen months are fragile. If President Obama wanted to advance U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, he would have set the stage for slowing down troop withdrawals in order to allow U.S. and NATO commanders to consolidate military gains and to strengthen the U.S. hand in any potential negotiations with the Taliban.

    Furthermore, he could have used the opportunity to signal our partners in the region that the U.S. is committed to Afghanistan over the long-term and will not simply turn its back on the region like it did in the late 1980s .

    Notably, President Obama did not raise the issue of negotiations with the Taliban. He is probably aware that his administration is on thin ice on this issue. Just a few weeks ago, U.S. media reported that the administration was considering releasing top Taliban commanders from Guantanamo Bay as a concession to the Taliban for opening a political office in Qatar.

    Granting such a major concession before the Taliban has renounced al-Qaeda and its terrorist agenda would be a dangerously risky gambit. The fact that the Taliban wants to cut out the Karzai government from the negotiating process should also be a red flag to administration officials. This demand likely reveals the Taliban’s objective of striking a deal with the U.S. that allows them to retake power rather than participate in a normal political process or take part in some kind of power-sharing arrangement.

    It seems the President simply wanted to gloss over the war in Afghanistan. But avoiding discussion of a country where thousands of U.S. soldiers are fighting to protect the U.S. homeland is disappointing, especially for a President who emphasized the importance of the same war three years ago.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    5 Responses to State of the Union: President Obama Glossed over Afghan War

    1. Jeff, Illinois says:

      Yeah, we should keep spending billions and give up many more lives indefinitely, for the sake of our Military Industrial Complex. And then we need more instances where so-called soldiers urinate on the enemy dead, film it and let it get around to further our diplomatic stance!

      • ronbo says:

        Wow, military industrial complex. Let's see that must mean our evil corporations, backed by our even more evil military, must have some material interest like oil or minerals or products we need to protect. Hmmm, I don't think Afghanistan has any of those. Or maybe we really are there for terrorism and Al Qaeda. Naaahhhh.

      • Todd says:

        Why don't you leave this country since it is so bad? I think Greece has the programs you are looking for.

    2. jesse says:

      The U.S. hasn't left any of the countries that it has invaded like Germany, japan, The Philippines, or Columbia so this should be a surprise at all. Also the soldiers are still fighting terrorists, which if you are against terrorism then you shouldn't have a problem with this news anyway.

    3. Mary says:

      You're right to point out that Afghanistan is overlooked – not just by Obama, however. Afghanistan wasn't even mentioned in the last GOP debate. The candidates prefer to posture on Iran. Not that Iran isn't an important issue, but when we're spending $2 billion per week on the Afghanistan war, and almost 2,000 US soldiers have died there, I think it deserves some mention.

      Whether you believe this costly war should end as soon as possible, as I do, or whether you want it to continue for another ten years, we should be talking about it, not ignoring it.

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