President Obama announced today, after meeting with Afghan President (or as I think of him, Kabul Mayor) Hamid Karzai, that our troops will move to a support role in the spring.
He didn’t announce troop levels either between now and the end of 2014, when the war is supposed to end, or beyond 2014, when we may leave a lower level of troops under a new bilateral agreement.
Obviously our troops, currently at 66,000, are in less danger if they play a support role, but I’d still like to get them the hell out of there ASAP. Even if our government were running a surplus, I still wouldn’t want to waste any more American lives and healthy brains and limbs on this hopeless effort.
Forget the counter insurgency. That requires a strong, stable central government, which Afghanistan still doesn’t have despite our decade of sacrifice. Focus on counter terrorism. That requires drones and special forces, which we have in abundance.
After 9/11, we kicked out Al Qaeda in a few months, without a lot of ground troops. We can do it again if we have to — and again and again.But the Taliban isn’t interested in coming after us, they just want to run Afghanistan, so they have no reason to let Al Qaeda have the safe haven they did before. Lessons learned all around.
We have to let Afghanistan go back to the war lords and the poppy growers. The Pashtuns will support the Taliban and the non-Pashtuns will fight them. And we will go after Al Qaeda wherever they are.