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About Time

June 23, 2011

Last night President Obama formally announced his Afghanistan Withdrawal plan. Rather, he formally announced his Surge Removal plan. Ten thousand troops out by the end of this summer, another 30,000 out by September 2012.

It’s about time.

I have defended our involvement in Afghanistan, but it’s time we acknowledge that our continued presence is more costly than beneficial. We have accomplished our original goals: we’ve taken out the Taliban’s leadership and provided a political framework that gives the people the sovereignty they have been fighting for since the Soviet Union started this mess. Afghanistan still faces terror attacks and government corruption, but Americans too are facing political and economic corruption and terror attacks from our own citizens – already this year we’ve seen shootings in grocery stores, post offices and pharmacies, but that’s its own post.
Before you go thinking that this huge withdrawal is a political buy meant to tell voters “Half off now, half off next term!” consider that this still leaves 70,000 troops hanging onto whatever dimpled chads happen between now and any foreseeable date in the future.

Republican contenders wasted no time in blasting their reactions, but since I can’t do voice impersonations (via blog or otherwise), I’ll summarize, with my thoughts in italics:

Mitt Romney: Nobody likes war, but that doesn’t mean we should plan the end of this war. We cannot plan the end of a war anymore than we can plan the beginning of a war! That my friend, was the problem with Iraq.

Tim Pawlenty: “This decision should be based on conditions on the ground and success…” A responsible end is not success. Since the surge was declared a success and this initial withdrawal is simply to reestablish the troop levels as they were before the surge, either Pawlenty does not believe the surge was a success or his speechwriter is on vacation and his interns just grabbed a bunch of phrases out of a hat.

Herman Cain: Afghanistan is still unstable. Cain wants to position himself as the fiscal candidate, since he knows so very little about Foreign Policy, war and presidential politics, he’s going to say as little as possible about anything other than job creation. The problem is he is trying to woo fiscal conservatives, social conservatives and party Republicans.

Ron Paul (via Campaign Chairman Jesse Benton): Too little too late. Bring them all home now. This war is an unwinnable game Al Qaeda tricked us into playing. Oh Ron, how I wish the “conservative” Republican party would battle to the death with your own little Libertarian party, it would be like Challenge of the Gladiators for recovering frat boys and self-made Napolean-complex Uncle Ralphs.

Rick Santorum: “[Obama] does not emphasize the need for victory.” RE: A responsible end is not success. What is it with Republicans and the ‘V’ word? I would like to see Santorum or Pawlenty specifically define ‘victory’ as it pertains to this war. Before he left office, Bill Clinton’s note to George W. Bush proclaimed that terrorism was the new battlefield, ‘Victory’ as it existed in previous wars does not exist. As often as the GOP reminds Americans of this fact, their Talking Points Office has been excluded from the thread.

So far that’s four contenders who would keep us in Afghanistan indefinitely and one who would pull out so fast Karzai himself would still be on his back prolonging a big finish.

Don’t think about this metaphor too much, the point is that Karzai is taking it and loving it whilst claiming vagrant assault. He’s exactly where he wants to be and we’re getting *bleeped* in the other sense of the word.

Finally, the former employee said what POTUS should have said:

Jon Huntsman: “We need a safe but rapid withdrawal which encourages Afghans to assume responsibility, while leaving in place a strong counter intelligence and special forces effort proportionate to the threat.” Muscles and guns win wars no more. President Obama took out Osama bin Laden with an intelligence-based strategy that planned – rather than running raids after each lead, with bin Laden always one step ahead, which was the previous administration’s misguided strategy.

It looks like Huntsman is preparing to lead an Intel-ilitary, and I have only one response to that:

It’s about time.

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