October 15, 2015
If asked, those versed in foreign policy would agree that Afghanistan was a legitimate war. Unlike Iraq with elements of doubt all over the reason for war, many find the purpose of U.S. invasion of the landlocked nation reasonable after the unfortunate attack of 9/11, a reason American troops remain in the nation despite the human toll.
On taking office as President in 2008, the cornerstone of Obama’ foreign policy was to train, equip and support an Afghan military capable of securing the nation in preparation for the withdrawal of American troops, after what is now a 14-year war.
In fact, one of the campaign promises of the President was to get all American troops out of Afghanistan by the end of his administration. But, instead of a troop drawdown, the Obama administration just announced that U.S. troops would remain in Afghanistan.
9,800 U.S. servicemen will continue to serve in the nation, while 5,500 troops, will stay at the end of the Obama administration in 2016. Those who have long called for troops withdrawal are troubled by the announcement. However, in the wake of a new rise in insurgency and the Taliban’s show of strength as it acquires new territories from the weak Afghan government, the U.S. decision, is yet another preëmptive move to avert a possible collapse.
U.S. supervision of the Afghan military is beginning to dry up. The Afghan government continues to show elements of weakness and incompetency, while corruption within the ranks keeps rising, making it impossible to have a stable government and a genuine military the U.S. can trust to keep the country from falling back to the Taliban and remnants of Al Qaeda.
The decision by President Obama to continue U.S. operation should not come as a surprise. Afghanistan is a terror hub, it will remain so for decades to come and with Afghan troops unable to fend for itself, it has become an endless war.
A total withdrawal by the U.S. will leave a vacuüm to be occupied by terror groups, waiting to take advantage of a corrupt government and a less capable Afghan military. Presence of U.S. forces will ensure that the U.S. can carry out its mission, while it continues to help the Afghan government confront the challenge posed by the Taliban.
This is a second withdrawal delay announced by the Obama administration but despite the disappointment felt by military families with loved ones in Afghanistan, it is important for the administration to take careful steps with its drawdown of forces now that the Taliban is beginning to strengthen its hold and for other reasons as follows:
There is a new threat by ISIL and from all indications the group is gaining grounds in Afghanistan. Also, Iraq remains unstable with ISIL fighters trying to overthrow the government, while Syria continues to burn under threat by the same group determined to remove Assad and set up a caliphate in the region.
Besides the threat in Syria and Iraq, a third intifada is looming as Palestinians fighting occupation by Israel have started a new resistance that may throw the Middle East into further chaos. But, while maintaining a sizable number of troops in Afghanistan is necessary, the U.S. must also show it is a neutral party as it works to find solution to the Palestinian question.
Terror has become a job. New recruits taking part in terror acts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other places, no longer see insurgency as only a matter of religious ideology. It has also become a livelihood, a reason radicalized youths move to unstable parts of the Middle East that offers the security and protection to engage in terror activities.
While this new plan by the Obama administration avoids a disaster, it is surely not the only solution giving the troubling events in Afghanistan and other security issues in Iraq, Syria and now Palestine.
Ending terror is a difficult task but, while the U.S. struggles to stabilize Afghanistan, it must not be oblivious to one of the major root causes. The Palestinian plight must be resolved or else, finding peace and ending the threat of insurgency in the world is a mere wish.
Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is an expert in general law, foreign relations and the United Nations. He is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment,’ ‘Criminal Law-Homicide’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available on Amazon. Follow on Twitter @san0670.