On Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. was brutally attacked by the terrorist organization al-Qaida, resulting in the deaths of nearly 3,000 Americans. In retaliation, then-President George W. Bush directed the American military to wage war on the terrorist group and the Taliban regime that harbored it in Afghanistan in retaliation.
After the decade of war that followed, President Barack Obama announced Wednesday night his plan to draw down the military deployment in Afghanistan, sending 10,000 troops home by the end of the year and an additional 20,000 by September 2012. The decision is a start, but it comes too late and does not act fast enough, leaving 70,000 troops in the country, according to The New York Times.
The decision to begin pulling troops out of Afghanistan has been a long time coming. Indeed, the Taliban formally surrendered in January 2002 and, according to BBC News, Osama bin Laden may have moved to Pakistan as early as 2003.
Although the military mission in the country saw good results early on, the occupation continued well after it should have been ended.
In the ensuing years, the Taliban, not al-Qaida, mounted a comeback. The mission morphed from attacking the terrorist organization to one of counter-insurgency and nation building.
When Obama came into office he ordered a surge of 30,000 troops to quell the increased violence, despite the fact that intelligence agencies estimate that there were only perhaps 100 al-Qaida terrorists in the country.
So far, 1,633 Americans have lost their lives in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, current casualty rates are higher than ever, as 499 died last year and 187 have died so far this year, according to icasualties.org.
In addition to the human cost, the war now costs taxpayers $100 billion each year that could be much better used in America.
“America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home,” Obama said during his speech.
Unfortunately, his words are not backed up by his actions. The plan he announced does not end the “combat mission” in Afghanistan until 2014. Troops will, of course, remain in the country after that date.
Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) even spoke of the establishment of permanent military bases in the country during post-speech analysis on CNN.
Our foreign policy has, through two administrations, traveled down a long, wrong road. Obama’s plan does not take any significant steps toward withdrawal and instead sets the stage for many more years of an American presence.