Afghanistan, then and now: Three questions

Kent Kingsley's picture

Like the passage in the classic “Tale of Two Cities,” it has been the best of times and the worst of times for our past decade in Afghanistan.

We all remember 9/11 and the horrific attack against the United States by al Qaida. President Bush took swift and decisive action, sending first the CIA and Special Operations forces to Afghanistan. And later sending conventional forces with the expressed mission to destroy al Qaida and remove the Taliban from power.

Our forces quickly linked with the Northern Alliance forces and in record time destroyed much of al Qaida, and defeated the rag tag Taliban forces, and took Kabul. Stage One of the Afghanistan mission was a huge success.

Then, quite frankly, we began a long line of missteps that have resulted in 1,800 killed in action and 15,700 wounded.

What were those missteps? First was our backing a corrupt president, Hamid Karzai. It is common knowledge by anyone with a passing interest in Afghanistan that Karzai was and is an incompetent leader. It was patently obvious that Karzai stole the last election, yet we continue to back him. Unbelievable.

We then compounded that error by participating in “nation building.” “Nation building” has cost America billions of dollars trying to build infrastructure and create democratic institutions. We did this in a country that, by our standards, was living like western societies lived in the 1600s.

Did we really think we could change their ages-old hatreds, social customs, and way of life, while fighting a war? Not a chance in “you know where” was that going to be successful.

Yet two presidents, and our Congress, have thrown good money after bad. More importantly, we have expended and put at risk the lives of our valiant soldiers in pursuit of a mission that was and is impossible.

President Obama was in Afghanistan this past week and gave a speech about the future of United States involvement. The stunning part of his speech was what he did not say. Never once did the President ever mention the word “Victory.”

Ladies and gentleman, when we have troops in combat, and the goal isn’t victory, the troops need to be withdrawn. Immediately!

As a retired lieutenant colonel who has lead our troops into battle, I can tell you that the men and women of our military are the finest in the world. They will exceed the expectations and orders of their leaders and government, but to ask them to sacrifice with no goal of victory is just wrong, in every sense of the word.

Instead of speaking of victory, our President declared that our policy there to be to tread water until 2014. He stated that we would “transition” to a policy of “shared commitments to combat terrorism and strengthen democratic institutions” that will commit our nation for another decade.

I have three questions for the President, and for our Congress.

First, what do “shared commitments” and “strengthen democratic institutions” actually mean, and what is our cost?

Second, do the President and Congress know we have a huge budget deficit?

Third, do they understand that we are going to have to continue to borrow money from China to prop up Afghanistan?

I believe we do have a commitment to combat terrorism, proven everyday by our warriors in Afghanistan, but does the Afghan population or the government have that same commitment?

A high percentage of our current causalities are from Afghan soldiers shooting our own soldiers. Again, it is unbelievable to have American forces in this situation. What should we do?

First, stop negotiating with the enemy.

Second, we have a decision to make. Win or go home.

It is quite clear to me this administration has no intention of winning. We must end this fruitless attempt at nation-building. We should tell Karzai he has four months to get his government’s act together because we won’t be there to prop him up any more. Finally we should make clear to Karzai that we will not tolerate his nation allowing terrorists to operate freely. If we find that to be occurring again, then Afghanistan will have to pay a terrible price.

Our troops have fought gallantly and with unbelievable courage. They deserve to win or to be brought home. We have spent enough of our treasure in Afghanistan. It is time for the Afghans to stand on their own two feet.

We can no longer afford nation-building, and we can’t afford to borrow the money to finance it. Wake up, Mr. President, and Congress — it’s time to change direction.

[Kent Kingsley is a Republican candidate for Congress in the Third Congressional District which includes Fayette and Coweta counties. He is a retired U.S. Army Infantry lieutenant colonel, owns a small real estate company in Lamar County and lives in Milner, between Griffin and Barnesville. He is an advocate for the Fair Tax, balanced budgets and federal term limits. His website is kingsleyforcongress.com.]

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