Thursday, June 23, 2011

Leaving Afghanistan is the right thing to do

Voices from both sides of the aisle are already charging that President Obama's plan to begin drawing own troops in Afghanistan is a political ploy to win re-election. They see a man who ran as Anti-War - who escalated one war, and began another in Libya - looking to reestablish his credentials with the Democratic base.

But sometimes we do the right thing for the wrong reasons. It is time to leave Afghanistan. We entered the country with two goals: (1) capture Osama Bin Laden, and (2) punish the Taliban for sheltering and incubating Al Qaeda and the bombers who struck us on 9/11. We have accomplished both of those goals (though Bin Laden died in Pakistan). And we have invested over 10 years and hundreds of billions of dollars in turning Afghanistan from a third-world war-zone into a functional nation state. It is enough. At this point, the Afghani people have to decide their own fate, and a continued American military presence is merely allowing them to put off the hard decisions and the tough compromises needed to knit together their fractured nation.

Many of my Conservative friends will disagree on this. They'll say that without us, Afghanistan will collapse into chaos and the Taliban will rise again. They may even say that without us in Afghanistan, Pakistan may radicalize and transform into a proto-Iran. But there comes a time in every intervention - whether in our personal lives or the world at large - where the object of the intervention needs to stand on its own. Or fall. Unless we're willing to decide that Afghanistan is the 51st state, it is time to go.

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