Dear Mr. President,
I am sure the families of the five thousand troops that will come home next month will be grateful, but what about the other ninety-five thousand troops? Bin Laden was killed in Pakistan, so why should we believe that any other Al Qaeda operatives are in Afghanistan? You justified the slow drawdown by claiming victory over Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. It was Al Qaeda who attacked us on 9-11, not the Taliban – the Taliban has been out of power for nearly a decade.
The Karzai government that our troops are propping up is corrupt and not worthy of the treasure we have already sacrificed in this war. We are continuing down an unwinnable path that was chosen by President Bush. During your campaign you said you would get the job done in Afghanistan. Mr. President, the night that Bin Laden was killed our mission in Afghanistan was complete.
We cannot unite the Afghan people; they must choose their own path. If Hamid Karzai cannot remain in power without our troops then perhaps he is not the legitimate leader of the Afghan people. We have lost fifteen hundred American lives in Afghanistan and the leader we are propping up is not showing gratitude. In fact, he has recently accused us of putting our interests ahead of the Afghan people and been critical of our negotiations with the Taliban.
From The New York Times:
“You remember a few years ago I was saying thank you to the foreigners for their help; every minute we were thanking them,” he said. “Now I have stopped saying that, except when Spanta forced me to say thank you,” referring to his national security adviser, Rangin Spanta, who was present.
“They’re here for their own purposes, for their own goals, and they’re using our soil for that,” Mr. Karzai said.
“Every time when their planes fly it makes smoke,” he said. “When they drop bombs, they have chemical materials in them. Our people get killed, but also our environment is damaged.”
Really? We got Bin Laden, so why are we in Afghanistan? Karzai doesn’t seem to want us there.
On Sunday, the departing American ambassador to Afghanistan, Karl W. Eikenberry, had this to say about Karzai’s remarks: “When Americans, who are serving in your country at great cost – in terms of life and treasure – hear themselves compared with occupiers, told that they are only here to advance their own interest and likened to the brutal enemies of the Afghan people,” the ambassador said, “my people, in turn, are filled with confusion and grow weary of our effort here.”
This morning our former Ambassador to China, GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, told the “Today Show” that the withdrawal plan is “not aggressive enough.” He said the Taliban were routed and it is now time for nation-building at home.
This afternoon in a conference call with the press, a senior administration official said: “On the threat side, we haven’t seen a terrorist threat emanating from Afghanistan for the past seven or eight years. There has been clearly fighting and threats inside of Afghanistan, but the assessment of anywhere between 50, 75 or so Al Qaeda types that are embedded in Haqqani units, basically, tactical fighting units inside of Afghanistan, they are focused inside Afghanistan with no indication at all that there is any effort within Afghanistan to use Afghanistan as a launching pad to carry out attacks outside of Afghan borders.”
If there is no longer a threat of terrorist attacks being launched from Afghanistan, then why do we need seventy thousand troops to remain there? If there are less than 100 Al Qaeda in Afghanistan isn’t it time to declare victory and leave?
So, Mr. President, you should be able to understand my confusion with the slow pace of withdrawal. It seems to me that we are not wanted there. Don’t we have enough problems at home? I can think of a lot better ways to spend two billion dollars a week.
That’s right, Joe Stiglitz estimates that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are costing us two billion dollars a week. What are we getting for this? An economy on the brink, that’s what.
Mr. President you have an election coming up in less than 18 months. If you have 70,000 troops in Afghanistan propping up a corrupt, ungrateful leader, while millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet, you risk being swept out of office by voters looking for change. Sound familiar? You are setting yourself up for a repeat of the 2008 election when the incumbent was strapped by a recession and a country at war.
So what can you do about it? Declare Victory! We got Bin Laden, bring the troops home and honor them for their sacrifice. Announce a public-works program designed to employ our returning troops and the victims of the recession caused by decades of war. Campaign on its passage and let us see which Republicans will vote against jobs for our returning heroes.
Now wouldn’t that be nice. But you just said only five thousand troops are coming home next month, and seventy thousand will probably be there on Election Day in 2012. So you will be blowing another hundred-and-fifty billion dollars, and will still be at war on Election Day. Good Luck.
AUTHOR: Scott Galindez is the Political Director of Reader Supported News, and the co-founder of Truthout.