The U.S. war in Afghanistan is now America’s longest war. The Vietnam War lasted 103 months. U.S. forces attacked Afghanistan on Oct. 7, 2001. Our troops have now been in Afghanistan for 9 years 7 months, and counting.
If you think the death of al Qaeda’s leader Osama bin Laden means the U.S. will now at least begin to think about ending the war in Afghanistan, think again.
When we first attacked Afghanistan less than a month after the traumatic events of 9/11, our government told us that the aim of the invasion was to find Osama bin Laden and other high-ranking Al-Qaeda members to be put on trial, to destroy the organization of Al-Qaeda, and to remove the Taliban regime which supported and gave safe harbor to it.
In a speech on March 27, 2009, “On a New Strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan,” Obama had tied al Qaeda directly with the presence of US fighting troops in Afghanistan, now numbering almost 100,000:
“What is our purpose in Afghanistan? After so many years, they ask, why do our men and women still fight and die there? And they deserve a straightforward answer. So let me be clear: Al Qaeda and its allies — the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks — are in Pakistan and Afghanistan…. I want the American people to understand that we have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan, and to prevent their return to either country in the future.”
Yesterday, May 3, 2011, Deb Reichmann of the AP reports that “US Says Bin Laden’s Death Does Not End Afghan War“:
The U.S. and key allies fighting Taliban-led insurgents in Afghanistan insisted Monday that the death of Osama bin Laden, who once found shelter there, would not mean a speedy end to the war or a rapid withdrawal of international troops….
“The killing of bin Laden outside of Afghanistan raises a question: If this is a fight to destroy al-Qaida, and al-Qaida is not there but in Pakistan, should Afghanistan really be the focus?” said Vali Nasr, until recently a senior U.S. State Department adviser on Pakistan and Afghanistan. Nasr said bin Laden’s death on Pakistani soil reduces the importance of the Afghan war for U.S. national security. It could make it easier for the U.S. to wind down the war there and focus more on Pakistan, he said….
[But] the U.S. is insisting that bin Laden’s death will not trigger a rapid withdrawal…. “This victory will not mark the end of our effort against terrorism,” said U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry in a statement released in Kabul. “America’s strong support for the people of Afghanistan will continue as before.”
Similarly, NATO said the alliance and its partners would “continue their mission to ensure that Afghanistan never again becomes a safe haven for extremism, but develops in peace and security.” Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd said his country’s 1,500 troops in southern Afghanistan will “stay the course until our mission is complete.”
Back in March 2009, Obama had promised that “Going forward, we will not blindly stay the course. Instead, we will set clear metrics to measure progress and hold ourselves accountable.”
The American people should demand an accounting from the Obama administration about those “clear metrics” that “measure progress” in the Afghan war. What stage of the war are we in? What’s the next step? What exactly are the conditions that must be met in order for our troops to withdraw?
We demand to know because America is broke. More importantly, we demand to know in the interest of the lives and wellbeing of our brave military men and women in that hellhole.