The Big Question: Should the U.S. military get out of Afghanistan?

Frank Askin, professor of law at Rutgers University, said:
There is no use throwing good money (and good bodies) after bad.  There can be no successful outcome to this war, unless we are prepared to stay in Afghanistan forever. We need the money back home. Let's just declare victory and get out!  


Paul Kawika Martin, policy and political director of Peace Action, said:
Yes, the U.S. should get the military out of Afghanistan.

Today, Representatives in the house will have the opportunity to vote against $33 Billion dollars "emergency" supplemental funding for the failed escalation in Afghanistan.  They will also have the opportunity to vote for a McGovern/Obey amendment that will among other things require the president to present Congress with:

1) a new National Intelligence Estimate on Afghanistan by January 31, 2011
2) a plan by April 4, 2011 on the safe, orderly and expeditious redeployment of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, including a timeframe for the completion of the redeployment.

The amendment also requires Congress to vote if the president wants to change his announce plan to begin to drawdown troops by July 2011 and expands oversight of private contractors in Afghanistan to deal more effectively with corruption, waste, fraud and abuse.

A large coalition of 20 organization representing nearly 13 million people support this amendment because the enormous costs in blood and treasure is not necessarily making Americans safer.  Instead, focusing on regional political solutions and investing in Afghan-led aid and development that brings people out of poverty has a far better chance of success at a fraction of the cost.  Let's not forget that we are funding this war by borrowing from China and as Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said last week:  debt is the number one threat to America's national security.

Remember that the U.S. invaded Afghanistan to capture Osama Bin Laden and defeat al Qaeda. The best intel is that Osama is not in Afghanistan and the head of the National Security Council estimates 100 al Qaeda in the country.  Given the network of al Qaeda and its jihadist allies, experts agree it could mount attacks on the U.S from other states in Africa, Asia or the Middle East.  100,000 U.S. and 40,000 coalition troops is not going to solve this problem.  In fact, it is making the problem worse.  The new focus on nighttime raids and air strikes continues to kill civilians, badly undercutting U.S. strategy to “win over” the Afghan people and causing the population of Kandahar to overwhelmingly prefer peace negotiations to a U.S. military offensive.

President Obama, Secretaries Gates and Clinton, and Generals Petraeus and McChrystal all have emphasized that we cannot win militarily in Afghanistan.  Yet, we continue to spend over 90% of our resources on the military solution rather than diplomacy, aid and development.  The U.S. decision to negotiate agreements with insurgents in Iraq is now widely seen as the greatest tactical success of that war, producing de-escalation and the negotiated withdrawal of U.S.  roops now underway.  More diplomatic pressure on the region to come up with a  comprehensive peace process has the best chance to stabilize the region and create environments less friendly to violent extremists.


Justin Raimondo, editorial director of Antiwar, said:
We need to get out of Afghanistan for a number  of very pressing reasons, among them being:

1) We can't win. The Afghan people simply do not want us there, and all the fresh "new" counterinsurgency stratgegies in the world aren't going to change that. No one wants to be occupied by a foreign power, and that axion applies especially to the Afghans, who beat the Soviets and are now beating us.

2) Our strategy consists of "nation-building," i.e. creating an Afghan government that rules the entire country. The problem is that there is no such "nation" as "Afghanistan" -- it's an arbitrary ahistorical construct created by the British, and now us, that has nothing to do with the political and demographic reality on the ground. "Afghanistan" has never had a unified national government with any real authority, and we aren't about to change that.

3) We can't afford it. Bankrupt nations can't afford empires -- and we are most certainly bankrupt.  Will we continue to borrow money from China in order to fund  our latest war of expansion? I doubt Beijing will allow that, and, even if they do, I don't think we can afford it. We are "nation building" halfway across the world while our own cities are going broke, and  allowed to fall into disrepair -- how much sense does that make?

4) The ostensible reasons for US intervention and occupation are long gone, along with Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda. President Obama says we need to make sure there are no "safe havens" for al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, but the real "safe haven" we have to worry about is within our own country, where no doubt al Qaeda is planning to strike as they did on 9/11. This "we're fighting them over there so we don't have to fight them over here" line is as phony and counterproductive under Obama as it was coming out of George W. Bush's mouth.

5) We are killing  innocents over there, just as we did in Iraq, and earning the eternal enmity of people whose loved ones have been murdered in cold blood by US bombs. We are creating more terrorists than we're killing or capturing -- good enough for government  work, I suppose, but not good if the defense of the US and its interests is the main concern.


Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said:
It's hard to see what we are accomplishing. That sounds like a very good reason for leaving.

However, Representative Boehner just gave us a second very good reason. He claimed that it is necessary to cut Social Security benefits and raise the retirement age to pay for the war. Since several leading Democrats have also called for cutting Social Security benefits, there must agree with Representative Boehner.

It doesn't seem fair to make retirees, most of whom just had their home equity and savings wiped out by the collapse of the housing bubble, pay for the war through cuts to Social Security. That would be a second very good reason for getting out of Afghanistan.


Peter Navarro, professor of economics and public policy at U.C. Irvine, said:
I made the case for getting out of this Black Hole a year ago.  It’s obvious.  Can’t win it.  There are numerous other safer havens for Al Queda that we haven’t invaded.  The war is destabilizing Pakistan.  China and Russia love that we are there and getting our asses and economy kicked.  The strategy is flawed.  Cry out loud.

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