In roughly two months, President Barack Obama is going to announce the beginning of the end of America’s longest war. He could not have known, when he initially set this summer for the beginning of the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan, that the timing would work out so perfectly. With Osama bin Laden now dead, it’s going to be a lot easier to begin pulling out of Afghanistan. The only question left to ask is how fast this drawdown will be accomplished.
Afghanistan has been called “the graveyard of empires” due to the fact that nobody has ever been able to truly conquer it — and mighty empires have exhausted themselves trying. The United States entered Afghanistan after 9/11 to get rid of the Taliban and the safe havens for Al Qaeda in the country. After the initial success, however, President George W. Bush soon became distracted with his misadventure in Iraq, and never devoted the military force Afghanistan required. If Osama bin Laden had been killed in the mountains of Tora Bora, it is very likely all American troops would be out of the country by now, but this opportunity was missed. Throughout Bush’s tenure, we never had more than 30,000-40,000 troops in Afghanistan. Obama tripled this number in two “surges” (the first of which the media barely noticed), and there are now approximately 100,000 troops in the country. When the second of these escalations was announced, Obama set a deadline of this summer to announce his withdrawal plans.
What was achieved? At what cost? Could it have been done differently? DEFINATELY!