October 7, 2001
Today marks the 10th anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan. On this date in 2001, British and American warplanes began carpet bombing suspected al Qaeda training camps in that country. George W. Bush gave a presidential address that day. Earlier, on September 20th, he introduced Operation Enduring Freedom at a speech given before a joint session of Congress:
In essence, President Bush stated that our objectives for the war in Afghanistan were:
1. The destruction of terrorist training camps and infrastructure within the country.
2. The capture of al Qaeda leaders.
3. The cessation of terrorist activities in Afghanistan.
We have accomplished all of these objectives – It is time to come home.
Two centuries ago, Prussian General Karl von Clausewitz coined the phrase: “War is an extension of diplomacy.” Today, we should recognize that a logical expansion of General von Clausewitz’s statement is that once war has been waged then “Diplomacy becomes an extension of war.”
We are now in the longest war in our nation’s history. It is time for the direction of this conflict to be determined by our State Department rather than by our Defense Department.
There is nothing more that can be done militarily in Afghanistan - not this year - not next year - not ten years from now. We have eradicated the al Qaeda presence in Afghanistan. We have done everything that we said we wanted to do ten years ago.
Now we are trying to defeat the local Taliban, who once supported al Qaeda (or more correctly were “being financially supported” by al Qaeda). The Taliban are part of the socio-political fabric of that country. To think that America could eradicate this group in Afghanistan would be like expecting a foreign invader to think that they could eradicate the Tea Party in America (though that may sound appealing to some people).
It ain’t gonna happen. Like it or not, the Taliban are there to stay.
Eric Schmitt, of The New York Times, wrote an informative article yesterday concerning the US attempt to bring the Taliban and other Afghani extremist groups to the table for discussions in regard to creating a coalition government in that country.
This is the type of talk that we need to hear now.
The US military has proudly served our country in Afghanistan for ten years. Now the military should be focusing on folding up their tents and establishing an exit-strategy, one that will allow for an immediate return to that country if an al Qaeda presence returns.
At the same time, our diplomatic efforts should be geared toward helping to bring together the indigenous groups within Afghanistan so that there will be a stable government there for us to work with in the future.
Today, in regard to US policy in Afghanistan, we need to be hearing more from Hillary Clinton and less from Leon Panetta.