U.S. should remain in Afghanistan until 2014

By Ginny Jacobs

Contributing Writer

In a recent New York Times poll, more than two-thirds of Americans said that the United States should not be at war in Afghanistan. Even many Afghans are planning on leaving their own country. Many believe the United States should withdraw, giving the worsening of relations due to disturbing events such as the shooting spree of a U.S. Army sergeant that massacred Afghan civilians and the riots set off by the burning of Korans by American forces.

Although it has been a discouraging few weeks in the Afghan War, the United States should not speed up the pace of withdrawal. If we walk away from Afghanistan without securing it, terrorists may return the nation to its condition in 2000or worse. Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, recently spoke with The Telegraph about his views on the future of terrorism in the West.

“Al-Qaeda is still present in Afghanistan. If the West decides that 10 years in Afghanistan is too long, then they will be back, and the next time it will not be New York or Washington, it will be another big western city,” he said.

The moment U.S. troops leave, the Taliban is likely to return and regain its oppressive rule over Afghanistan. Fawzia Koofi, a candidate for the Afghan presidential elections in 2014, claims that if the West abandons Afghanistan, global terrorism will increase.

“Once again our country will become a playground for global terrorism and a risk to the world,” Koofi said.

Although there is an enormous amount of pressure on U.S. President Barack Obama to pull out of this unpopular war at a time of economic crisis, by pulling out now, we risk undoing all of the fragile gains we have made in the past 11 years.

Our main goal for being in Afghanistan has been to prevent Al-Qaeda’s return by preventing the Taliban and Haqqani Networks from gaining control of the Afghan state. U.S. military pressure has kept Al-Qaeda and the Taliban in check, despite Al Qaeda’s many efforts to return to its position of power. However, the Haqqani Network still remains. It is essential that the United States’  forces drive the Haqqanis from their safe havens and create a stable situation that Afghan troops can maintain.

Counterinsurgency wars are difficult to win. They take a long time; they force us to rely on the local government in order to achieve our goals, as well as our ability to persuade members of a devastated society that we are better than our enemies, such as getting them to trust us and not the enemies.

It is difficult to see progress, even as it is occurring. However, there is a reason our enemies force us to fight this way. If they fought to our strengths, they would lose completely and quickly. The only way our enemies can defeat us is by eroding our will to continue the war. Currently, they are succeeding.

We must stay until 2014 so that the Afghan security forces become sufficiently large enough and strong enough to take over the fight. Although this process is well underway, we should not persuade ourselves that Afghan forces are currently strong enough to either fight without us or hold what we have meticulously won thus far.


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