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After Afghanistan, then what?

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BILL STEWART

Understanding Your World

Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014 7:00 pm | Updated: 9:45 pm, Fri May 30, 2014.

“I am haunted by those deaths. I am haunted by those wounds.” Thus spoke President Barack Obama this week to the more than 1,000 graduating cadets at the U.S Military Academy, West Point, N.Y. He had good reason to use those words fraught with so much pain, because he himself had deployed previous West Point cadets to Afghanistan after their graduation, deployed them to one of history’s graveyards, where some of them met their deaths or were grievously wounded. That is a burden all presidents must bear when we go to war. And it is not lightly borne. It haunts the soul, no matter how just the cause.

The president had traveled to West Point to deliver not just a commencement address but a major foreign policy speech. A day earlier, he had spoken briefly at the White House about his plans to reduce the number of American troops in Afghanistan from their present level of 30,000 to some 9,800 by the end of the year, and reducing that number until virtually no troops are left by the end of 2016, the last year of his presidency. Was there politics involved in both the numbers and the timing? Of course there was. Obama actually increased the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by some 30,000, until the total reached more than 100,000. The results of that surge are still a matter of debate. But Obama came into office promising to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has done that in Iraq and is in the process of doing that in Afghanistan. To his critics on the left, the pace is not fast enough. To the critics on the right, who seem to believe that leadership flows mainly from the barrel of a gun, the pace is too fast. But the American public is almost certainly behind the president as he withdraws from Afghanistan.

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3 comments:

  • Pierce Knolls posted at 9:01 am on Mon, Jun 2, 2014.

    Mister Pierce Posts: 2833

    Yup, if we were just going to abandon Afghanistan to the Taliban and al-Qaeda, well, we could have just done that five years ago and saved a lot of American lives and tax dollars. Why is Obama now walking away from the war he once described as just and necessary?

     
  • Pierce Knolls posted at 8:57 am on Mon, Jun 2, 2014.

    Mister Pierce Posts: 2833

    "In other words, American power has not declined under his watch. Republicans take note." - It's cute how Stewart still thinks that when Obama says something he's telling the truth.

     
  • Pat Shackleford posted at 1:14 am on Sun, Jun 1, 2014.

    Pat Shackleford Posts: 949

    "Obama actually increased the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by some 30,000, until the total reached more than 100,000."

    There were about 32,000 troops in Afghanistan when Obama took office and became Commander in Chief. By the end of his first year in office that number had more than doubled to about 67,000. During the course of his second year in office (up to early 2011), troop levels were increased by another 30+ thousand, bringing the total to about, or just over 100,000. Obama actually increased troop levels by about 70,000.

    "But Obama came into office promising to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."

    In Bizarro World, where Obama does the opposite of what he campaigned on, and Democrats cheer; one gets credit for winding down a war (as candidate "Hopey-O" promised) 5 years later, after first spending a few years increasing troop levels by over 200%. U.S. troop deaths in Afghanistan since He took office in 2009 is about 1,700.

    The certain result of the "surges", is that the body-count also surged. Consider it national collateral-damage, to be expected and tolerated as a cost of doing war-business. A business in-which the U.S. is truly "the world's indispensable power".

     

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