As many as 30,000 troops to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2012.
My question is: Why so few, why take so long?
A surge for Afghanistan never made sense to me, especially given President Obama’s tepid support for his own policy. We were never going to pacify the country, much less successfully build a nation out of it. Afghanistan (and Somalia) isn’t a nation, I’ve long thought; it’s a place on the map where other nations aren’t.
Given that, a small-footprint counter-terror strategy was the wise course — for as long as necessary and not one minute longer. I’m not alone in that, since it’s essentially the same policy pursued by President Bush and endorsed by Vice President Biden. I’m feeling all bipartisan this morning.
I’m not sure exactly what we’ve accomplished with the surge. We’ve made large swaths of Afghanistan somewhat more pleasant places to live — temporarily. But the blood and treasure we’ve spent there, stays spent forever. With or without the surge, al Qaeda hasn’t been what it once was for a very long time. And killing bin Laden? The surge didn’t help with that. In fact, a small unit moving very quickly to achieve a goal and then bugging right out…
…well, that’s a pretty solid repudiation of Obama’s policy and a perfect execution of Biden’s.
I’d glad to be wrong on this one, and that the President made the right call. I’d like to hope that as we draw down from that place where other countries aren’t, we’ll leave a real country behind. But I certainly don’t expect it.