17 February 2020

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Withdraw From Afghanistan, Ceasefire or Not

Written by  Manager2
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Friday January 10, 2020
Kabul (BNA) About 14000 American soldiers were absent from their family Christmas dinner tables this holiday season. But they could be back with their families next December — if our leaders would bring them home from our failed war in Afghanistan, that is.
The current state of affairs is not promising. On Dec. 29, the Taliban council agreed to a temporary ceasefire in Afghanistan to pave the way for peace talks, but the Taliban chief has yet to agree to the measure. It doesn’t seem he’s too interested in peace. Just the evening before, the Taliban had claimed responsibility for an attack in Northern Afghanistan that killed 17 local Afghan fighters.
Negotiating with terrorists is usually a zero-sum game, and they know it as well as anyone else. It’s why waiting for the Taliban to strike an honest peace deal is like waiting for rain in a desert. Sadly, it’s a strategy the United States has fallen for far too many times.
The prospect of a peace deal in Afghanistan regained momentum after President Trump made his first visit to the country on Thanksgiving. Peace talks had previously halted in September, when Trump canceled a secret Camp David meeting with the Taliban because of their involvement in an attack in Kabul that killed an American. Now, with the president’s support, our Afghanistan envoy Zalmay Khalilzad has resumed a hectic attempt to orchestrate a backstage conclusion to the war, but his plans for peace remain on very thin ice.
Politicians have repeatedly made false promises when it comes to ending the war in Afghanistan.
Former President Barack Obama promised to end the war by 2014 but increased our troop numbers by 2016. Before his election, President Trump repeatedly called the war a waste of lives, resources, and time. Last year, he made an even grander promise to bring all the troops home by 2020.
In an attempt to reach that lofty goal, Trump has considered starting with bringing 4,000 troops home, but that has yet to materialize. And what’s worse, after watching the lack of foreign policy discussion during the Democratic debates so far, it’s painfully obvious that pulling our troops out of Afghanistan falls low on the totem pole for Democrats too.
It shouldn’t.
Last year, 20 Americans died during combat operations in Afghanistan. This may seem like a low number considering the total number of troops there, but it’s actually the most casualties for a calendar year since 2014. According to the Washington Post, "since 2001, more than 775,000 U.S. troops have deployed to Afghanistan, many repeatedly. Of those, 2,300 died and 20,589 were wounded in action."
Let’s not forget the toll this war has taken on local Afghans, too.
Per the Washington Post’s Afghanistan Papers, it’s estimated that 61,124 Afghan security forces personnel, 43,074 civilians, and 42,100 Taliban insurgents have died. Afghans need time to rebuild their war-torn country, but many of them can’t even remember a time when they weren’t at war with themselves or a foreign power.
Afghanistan is a country that has been at war with itself for decades, and things aren’t getting better despite our best efforts. The U.S. merely needs to call the war a stalemate and save our troops and resources for another day. We certainly do not need approval from the Taliban, or anyone else for that matter, to leave Afghanistan. Waiting for an idealistic peace deal is a recipe for forever war.
Perhaps our nation’s New Year’s resolution ought to be realizing American military force is not the answer to every problem around the world. By focusing time and resources on problems the U.S. actually can alleviate, we’ll engage in far fewer endless commitments and get ourselves out of situations we should’ve left years ago. But Afghanistan isn’t one we can fix, and we’re only making things worse.
It’s time to pack up and get out

Last modified on Thursday, 09 January 2020 10:07

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