We all know why President Obama is pulling the troops out of Afghanistan having done so in Iraq.
It’s good for momentary headlines particularly when you are trying to bolster up some unprecedentedly low approval ratings but what price is America and the rest of the world going to pay for this moment of injudicious political and military naivety?
No self respecting person in the West wants to keep foreign troops in a country longer than you need to but, with substantial investment in Iraq by his predecessor George Bush, he should have kept an amount of military personnel to help bolster the Iraqi Army and Police Force so as to protect the country against this radical group of insurgents who seem ‘hell bent’ on controlling the country. All this with troops acting as advisers away from the heat of the battlefield.
The same thing will happen in Afghanistan where The Taliban will be back in Kabul with some sort of power sharing agreement with the government and, before you know it, there will be another Islamic radical ‘hot spot’ grooming new recruits for foreign ‘hate’ missions.
Unfortunately this is the price you pay when you vote for a President who is promoted beyond his station and clearly does not have the depth of understanding of international affairs that is so needed when you are in such an important and powerful position as the USA in terms of world peace. Being an isolationist and designing the American foreign policy on the basis of courting popularity, is no way to leave an enduring legacy.
What he needs is less an Ivy League/Harvard trained Secretary of State who fights ‘old fashioned’ wars, but a ‘street fighter’ who understands the terrain and is able to counteract the new style of ‘war’ i.e. terrorism.
America needs to update its military thinking and spend less on tanks fighting the ‘old’ wars and more on distributing cash to local war lords gaining vital information (listen to Paul Bremer, the Presidential Envoy to Iraq 2003/04 he understands the problem better than most). The first task is to get Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki to be more inclusive as far as the Sunni political representatives are concerned which will undermine Al Qaeda’s attempts to create a civil war.
The wars in Afghanistan were never meant to be won in the old fashioned military sense. As long as there is an allegiance between Afghanistan and Pakistan, where radical groups can ply their trade and fester, there is a need to keep this process in check. It is a little like shoplifting – you can’t eliminate it but you can control it.
So there will not be any victory party on an aircraft carrier with a slogan “mission accomplished” (as depicted by Bush in his term) but it is very necessary for America to have a meaningful presence (behind the front line) in order to ‘hoover’ and assimilate vital information about extremists. Drones have been remarkably effective but they need information to feed them, without which, they are worthless.
You will only get information if you have this contingency in the country with its ‘ears to the ground’.
Beware Mr Obama, you can’t just sit out your Presidency hoping that there will be relative peace in the world by default.