In his weekly address, President Obama promised to withdraw U.S. troops by the end of 2014 and to start wasting money here at home, instead of over in Afghanistan.
“After more than a decade of war,” he said,” it is time to focus on nation building here at home.” He added that America has been successful in Afghanistan, and that he is bringing the war to a close victoriously.
But the President’s remarks were misleading and carefully phrased to benefit his reelection campaign. The truth is, the war has been an utter failure, it will continue long after 2014, and it will continue to cost the U.S. exorbitant sums of money as Americans struggle in a down economy.
After recalling his recent trip to visit U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Obama claimed “the tide of war has turned in Afghanistan. We have broken the Taliban’s momentum. We’ve built strong Afghan Security Forces.” Except none of those things are true.
The tide of war has not turned. For virtually every six month period since the beginning of the surge in 2009, the rate of bloodshed and violence has increased considerably. Last year saw a rise in overall violence for the fifth year in a row.
As for the Taliban’s momentum, it has not been broken. In a report submitted last Tuesday to Congress, the Pentagon acknowledged a “resilient” Taliban and many analysts have predicted at least a partial return to power by the Taliban.
In January, the National Intelligence Estimate concluded the war is still a “stalemate,” that the Taliban are still strong, that Washington has propped up a government plagued by pervasive corruption and illiberal policies, etc.
Finally, the Afghan security forces are neither strong, competent, nor independent. Afghan troops consistently get into gun battles with their American and NATO counterparts and less than 1 percent of them can operate independently, without NATO guidance.
Obama also misrepresented this so-called withdrawal date of 2014. The deal he signed with Kabul would maintain a significant U.S. presence in Afghanistan until at least 2024. The U.S. will continue the war, including conducting night raids and drone strikes into Pakistan, well beyond this 2014 date. And it will continue to cost billions of dollars.