Why We Must Fight In Afghanistan
Wednesday - November 18, 2009
To be (in Afghanistan) or not to be? That is the question. And I submit that it must be the former.
The Taliban came into power after spearheading the defeat of the occupying Soviet army.At first they were received enthusiastically by the Afghan people as"liberators” from a brutal occupying power, but as they consolidated their victory by the ruthless elimination of Afghanistan’s more moderate leadership - with whom they had fought the Russians side by side - they quickly imposed sharia law. Before they knew it, the Afghan people found themselves under a more repressive and inhumane regime than had been imposed under the Russians. The Taliban became the very essence of fanatical Islamic extremism.
After Sept. 11, 2001, the Taliban continued harboring Osama bin Ladin and the al Qaida leadership, who confessed to orchestrating the attacks on America. When they refused our demands to turn them over, the U.S. military - with the help of some NATO allies and the few remaining anti-Taliban elements - drove both the Taliban and al Qaida out of Afghanistan to their sanctuaries in the rugged mountains along the Afghan-Pakistan border.
If we leave Afghanistan before its elected-but-less-than-perfect-government is able to maintain its U.S. and NATO trained police force and army to defend itself, the Taliban and al Qaida will reoccupy the country, sharia law will again be imposed, and it will again be a safe haven for terrorists of all stripes united in their commitment to destroy America.
Nuclear-armed Pakistan (bordering eastern Afghanistan) has been our essential but sometimes reluctant ally in our fight in Afghanistan. After the heavy-handed but effective Gen. Pervez Musharraf was forced to step down from his presidency, he was succeeded by the husband of the much-revered Benazir Bhutto after she was assassinated by Taliban/al Qaida-inspired terrorists. Only in the last few months, after an unsuccessful policy of coexistence and suffering several suicide bombings that killed hundreds, has Pakistan really become serious about fighting our common enemy. The Pakistani army’s recent offensive against the terrorists in the western mountainous areas along the Afghan border has been both fruitful and encouraging. If the Taliban/al Qaida terrorists can find no refuge on either side of the border, they will be be beaten. But if U.S. and NATO forces leave Afghanistan to them, they will continue to destabilize Pakistan, seriously jeopardizing the security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons.
The longer our president equivocates over the decision to send the additional troops to Afghanistan requested by Gen. McChrystal - his chosen commander - necessary to win there, several adverse things will happen:
1) Most seriously, our troops already there are left to fight with inadequate numbers thereby increasing casualties.
2) Our commitment to win in Afghanistan will remain in question, thereby causing Pakistanis to reconsider their newly aggressive posture against the Taliban and al Qaida with the increasing possibility of the terrorists again finding safe haven.
3) With our commitment still in question, our NATO allies will be more reluctant to provide the troops and other help we are requesting of them.
4) Our president will be perceived as weak, unable to make the hard decision necessary in a dangerous world, resulting in no one, friend or foe, taking us seriously.
As I pen this column, the president, after four months of indecision, has just said he is dissatisfied with all the alternatives McChrystal and other military advisers have provided. He wants to see an “endgame” or an “exit strategy” and a “timetable” - all Democrat terms from the Iraq era. What this “president” doesn’t understand is the only acceptable synonym for all three of those terms is “victory,” a word I have never heard him use since his campaign.
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