The Dangers of Troop Withdrawal

It’s true that a majority of Americans (56%) want to bring home troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible. But is this sound military policy? Is it wise for President Obama to conduct foreign policy (or any policy) based on what the polls say?

The answer is most certainly no. Unfortunately, many Americans don’t understand what’s at stake in Afghanistan. That’s not their fault; they’re not there and their elected leadership has done a poor job explaining the situation.

But now, President Obama decided that it was more important to wrap things up than it was to listen to outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates or General Petraeus (who brought Iraq back from the brink of failure). Both Gates and Petraeus believed the President’s initial withdrawal is far too aggressive. President Obama wanted the surge troops out by next Spring, General Petraeus wanted more time, at least until the end of 2012.

(Conveniently, the troops will be coming home just before the presidential election)

But is this safe? According to Heritage:

“The withdrawal plan will signal to both our Afghan allies and enemy forces that the U.S. is more committed to withdrawing its forces than the long-term goal of stabilizing the country. The U.S. made a grave error in turning its back on Afghanistan after the Soviets departed in 1989. President Obama’s speech will stoke fears that the U.S. is getting ready to repeat a similar mistake.”

Another concern is the fact that he has not only announced the withdrawal, but set the timetable. This gives al-Qaeda and the Taliban the information they need to ready their forces. President Obama has essentially told them when our troop presence will weakened.

President Obama should do more than “hope” history will not repeat itself.

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