Should we stay or should we go?
Although the title of one of my favorite '80s songs, that’s not what I’m referring to. I’m referring to Afghanistan.
Since the finding and killing of Osama bin Laden at his compound in Pakistan, the question is being mulled over not only by American voters and congressional members, but by the White House. [See photos of reactions to Osama bin Laden's death.]
Now in his position as commander in chief post bin Laden, the president has great credibility on foreign affairs and Congress will not try to force his hand on Afghanistan; that will be his decision to make.
The president had promised to begin reducing troop levels in July and I believe that he not only will, but he should.
Reports show that our troops suffer lower morale now than in the past five years in Afghanistan. Nearly half of them report having killed the enemy; nearly 80 percent have seen a fellow comrade badly injured or killed. Most have seen bombs detonated; it’s nearly a daily occurrence for some. There are soldiers that have done three or more tours of duty in Afghanistan; and the wear and tear is beginning to show. They’re stressed, anxious and depressed. More and more soldiers attempt to commit suicide. More and more come home and need to be treated for post traumatic stress syndrome. War is hell and some would say this comes with the job; especially in this part of the world. [See a slide show of six potential terrorist targets.]
The condition of our troops aside, let’s look at the condition of Afghanistan, it’s people and what our mission there is, or what it was supposed to be. The people of Afghanistan appreciate the overthrowing of the Taliban, but in many areas of Afghanistan, the Taliban are gaining power and control once again. The Afghans perceive the United States as occupiers now more than helpers and most when questioned do not see much of a difference in their own daily lives since we stepped in to help.
As questions arise regarding who will replace bin Laden or if anyone replaces him; the question also arises as to whether al Qaeda is even relevant being that so many people in so many Arab Muslim nations want a Western brand of democracy; as opposed to what al Qaeda preached. The question also must be asked, are our troops needed in such numbers in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan with bin
Laden gone? We must remember, we entered into Afghanistan not only to defeat the Taliban, but to hunt down and capture bin Laden. That mission was accomplished. Now what? [Vote now: Which president deserves credit for Osama bin Laden’s demise?] I don’t think the answer is pulling all of our troops out this summer. The Taliban is still a threat not only to the people of Afghanistan, but also America, if they were to offer a safe haven to those whose intent it is to attack and hurt us. And of course there is the cost. $119 billion as of this year. Ouch. That definitely makes a dent in our deficit. And curbing those numbers could definitely be considered “cutting spending” as those in the GOP chant daily.
So whether it’s to protect our troops' physical and mental health, to place the people and the country in the hands of the Afghan military and their government (take those training wheels off!), to save money or admit we’ve done the best we could with regards to the Taliban, it’s time to say “won't you come home Bill Bailey won't you come home” to our troops in Afghanistan once and for all.