Pro-con: Should U.S. withdraw from Afghanistan?

afghantroopsPolls show reduced public support for the Afghanistan war. President Obama’s commanders reportedly are telling him that the war is not going well. We were supposed to be fighting al-Qaida in Afghanistan, but now we are putting out peace feelers to the Taliban. If we do not need to be in Afghanistan to fight al-Qaida, it is hard to understand why we are there. Our much-vaunted Kandahar operation has brought little stability in that sector of the country. And the supposed rationale for our involvement in Afghanistan is combating terrorism, but it may hurt more than it helps. Anger over our Afghanistan war has brought the “domestic terrorism” that has led to major arrests in this country. By any account, our Afghanistan war is counterproductive. If there is a case to be made for another American soldier dying in Afghanistan, I am waiting to hear it. — John B. Quigley, Ohio State University

President Obama has backed away from his 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. Why the change of heart when polls show declining popular support for the war? Perhaps because, unlike most of the American public, the president is paying attention to our enemies. For example, NATO troops arrested Ahmed Sidiqi, a 36-year-old Afghan-German, in Kabul in July. Under questioning, he admitted meeting with a senior al-Qaida leader in the tribal areas of Pakistan. The purpose of that meeting: to be briefed on al-Qaida’s plan to make the streets of Europe run red. Without NATO boots on the ground, the plot against Europe might never have been uncovered. Without America’s military presence, the subsequent predator-drone strikes that wiped out more than half a dozen al-Qaida assets involved in the plot would have been impossible. The wilds of Afghanistan and Pakistan are al-Qaida central. To quit the area before we’ve rooted out the terrorists would hand al-Qaida a propaganda victory of immeasurable value. Worse, it would cede them a sanctuary from which they could mount fresh strikes at the West with virtual immunity. — James Jay Carafano, Heritage Foundation