Romney Slams Obma on Afgnanistan Pull Out
February 6, 2012
Calling President Barack Obama’s plan to pull out of Afghanistan by 2013 “naieve” and “misguided,” GOP presidential hopeful former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney blasted Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta for announcing the U.S. could cease combat operations next year. When former President George W. Bush launched Operation Enduring Freedom Oct. 7, 2001 four short weeks after Sept. 11, no one imagined 11 years later the war would still be going. Now longer than any war in U.S. history, the Afghan War no longer has the support it once did in the days following Sept. 11. “The president made clear that U.S. forces are in Afghanistan to accomplish a mission, and they will not stay in Afghanistan forever, and they will not stay in Afghanistan any longer than is necessary to accomplish that mission,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney, calling the conflict a “war without end.”
Few objected to toppling the Taliban after Sept. 11 for harboring Osama bin Laden. When Bin Laden and Taliban’s one-eyed leader Mullah Mohammed Omar fled Afghanistan via the Khyber Pass during the battle of Tora Bora Dec. 12-17, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld should have pivoted, realizing that the plotters of Sept. 11 escaped to Pakistan. Only four weeks after launching Operation Enduring Freedom, Omar and the Taliban were driven out of Kabul Nov. 14, 2001, conducting terror operations from the mountainous no man’s land around the Pakistan border. Eleven years later, the U.S. fights the same type of guerrilla war that eventually broke the Soviet Union, bailing out of Afghanistan Feb. 15, 1999. U.S. forces have been in Afghanistan over a year longer than the Soviets, having about the same success. Even Obama has trouble defining the current U.S. Afghan mission.
Obama and most nonpartisan military experts know that there is no mission left in Afghanistan, other that coddling the government of 54-year-old U.S.-backed Hamid Karzai, an ethnic Pashtun, the same tribe as the Taliban. Karzai often criticizes the U.S. role, blaming the Pentagon for various mishaps with predator drones, killing either his troops or innocent civilians. Karzai walks a dangerous tightrope, supporting U.S. actions, while, at the same time, placating his relatives in the Taliban. Karzai’s late opium trading brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, was given free reign to conduct opium smuggling operations. Given the history and costs to U.S. taxpayers and the military, Romney’s criticism is even more outrageous. “Why in the world do you go to people you’re fighting with and tell them the date you’re pulling out your troops,” said Romney, blasting Obama and Panetta.
Romney politicized Afghanistan the same way he did Iraq when Obama finally pulled the plug Dec. 14, 2011. Romney complained then that Barack didn’t listen to his generals, who wished to continue the war. Romney doesn’t quite get that the commander-in-chief holds the sole responsibility for determining the worthiness of U.S. military operations. Whether or not the Pentagon seeks to continue foreign wars is irrelevant. Obama “disregarded the counsel of his top military commanders,” insisted Romney, failing to see the bigger picture. Obama gave the military three long years into his presidency to finish job in both Iraq and Afghanistan. A New York Times/CBS News poll in 2011 indicated the 79% of U.S. respondents favored a methodical pull out of U.S. forces in 2011. Romney’s criticism of Obama’s Afghanistan pull out plan could come back to bite him.
Since the U.S. no longer seeks to scour Afghanistan of al-Qaeda, Operation Enduring Freedom has morphed into stabilizing the Karzai government. No one knows for sure what direction the Afghan people will go once the U.S ends the mission. “He announced that so the Taliban hears it, the Pakistanis hear it, the Afghan leaders hear it,” said Romney, as if the U.S. can dictate Afghanistan’s government. Whether or not the Taliban returns to Kabul has to do with the Karzai government and the will of the Afghan people. When Barack talks about finishing the mission, he knows it’s not up to the U.S. to impose its form of government on Afghanistan. When Afghanistan ceased as the hub of al-Qaeda operations, the U.S. lost its mission. Mullah Mohammed Omar and the Afghan Taliban had nothing to do with Sept. 11. Romney knows the Taliban was punished for harboring Bin Laden.
Obama enjoys overwhelming public support to get out of Afghanistan. Only a handful of people still believing that the Taliban or Iraqis were responsible for Sept. 11 believe the U.S. should stay put. White House and Pentagon officials know that the mission of protecting U.S. national security was over in Afghanistan the day Bin Laden and Omar escaped the Battle of Tora Bora in mid-Descember 2001. Today’s mission uses U.S. troops to get in-between the Afghan’s civil war. No amount of U.S. or NATO forces can stop a nationalistic movement, preferring Islamic fundamentalism over secular forms of government. “We’re focused on defeating al-Qaeda, whereas other people seem focused on the size and number of U.S. troops deployed overseas,” said an unnamed senior White House official. With no recognized mission left in Afghanistan, the commander-in-chief made the right decision.
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