Monday, June 27, 2011

What Time is it in Afghanistan? Part V

President Obama recently announced the first 10,000 of the 30,000 surge troops he sent to Afghanistan in 2010 will be pulled out this summer. The remaining 20,000 will be pulled out in the summer of 2012. This decision is both tactically and strategically dangerous. Summer is the height of the fighting season in Afghanistan so to reduce the number of troops during the fighting after hard fought gains have been made risks reversing that success.

Obama's follow through on his previously announced pull out reinforces our enemies' and some of our allies' view that we would give up short of victory. Ending a war is not the same as winning a war as much as Obama and his aids would wish it so. Deliberately hamstringing ourselves could have serious strategic consequences for years to come as Obama's desire to "lead from behind" takes root.

 Giving up on he and other liberals used to call the good and necessary war can not be papered over with a surge in drone strikes because they can only have limited results and they tend to reinforce the view that the U.S. is reluctant to put boots on the ground where they are most needed, but where the fighting would be tough. In the fall of 2012 Obama will try to argue the war in Afghanistan is over, but eventually we will all be reminded that the enemy is looking at a different watch.

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