A sample of headlines since a U.S. soldier went on a killing rampage in Afghanistan: “Afghanistan’s Taliban Suspend Peace Talks with U.S.“; “Afghan Protesters Demand U.S. Soldier Be Tried in Afghanistan“; “Karzai Demands U.S. Troops Leave Village Outposts“; and “Taliban Threaten to Behead U.S. Soldiers in Revenge.”
And still we stay. President Obama stubbornly insists that nothing has changed. Our timetable for withdrawal remains December 2014. Why? When we attacked Afghanistan in October 2001, the mission was clear: kill or capture Osama Bin Laden, disrupt al Qaeda and remove the Taliban from power.
In 2004, Hamid Karzai was elected president of Afghanistan, and the Taliban was officially out of power. In 2009, there weren’t enough al Qaeda members in Afghanistan to fill a football roster. On May 2nd of last year, Osama Bin Laden was shot in the head by Navy Seals in neighboring Pakistan.
It can be argued that the mission was completed when it was clear that Bin Laden had fled Afghanistan years ago. On May 2, 2011, there was no question that the war should end.
And still we stay.
The war in Afghanistan stands as the most glaring example of mission creep in history. The stated mission now has nothing to do with our original invasion of the country. We are told that 100,000 troops remain in Afghanistan to win the hearts and minds of the Afghan people, to train the military to protect the Karzai government and to keep al Qaeda from using the country to plot attacks on America.
Al Qaeda, and other terrorist groups, don’t need Afghanistan to stage attacks; they have Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Iran and other countries for that. Recent protests should make it clear that hearts and minds have not been won. An Afghanistan soldier we trained and armed shot two American soldiers after the Quran burning. They are 19-year-old Payton Jones of Marble Falls, Texas, and 25-year-old Jordan Bear of Denver, Colorado. Explain to their families why we are still in Afghanistan long after the war has lost its purpose.
Nearly 2,000 American men and women have died in Afghanistan since the war began more than 10 years ago. Almost 1,000 have died since President Obama tripled the number of troops in December 2009. That is the greatest cost of the war. The other cost is the more than $2 billion a week we pour into Afghanistan.
And still we stay.
War hawks will argue that to pull out now will show weakness. It will be a victory for the terrorists and another loss for America. So how long do we stay then? Afghanistan is already America’s longest war. Can anyone really argue that things will be substantially better next year, the year after, or at the end of 2014 when we officially pull out? Afghanistan will go back to what it was, except it will have better roads, better guns and more money.
But of all the things that make no sense about the war in Afghanistan, the greatest curiosity and disappointment is the lack of outrage. There are no massive protests in the streets of America because the anti-war movement has exposed itself as fraudulent, and more anti-Republican than anti-war. It is not an issue in the 2012 campaign because no-anti war Democrat challenged the President. And the Republican candidates will turn off their hawkish conservative base if they dare call for immediate withdrawal; just look at how Ron Paul has been marginalized.
Recent polls show that 60 percent of Americans support an immediate withdrawal, but we apparently don’t care enough to do anything about it. We owe our troops more than our apathy.