On Christmas Day at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, followed by a White House press release on Dec. 28, President Obama announced the end of the war in Afghanistan. “We’ve been in continuous war now for almost thirteen years—over 13 years,” he said, “and next week we will be ending our combat mission in Afghanistan. Obviously, because of the extraordinary service of the men and women in the American armed forces, Afghanistan has a chance to rebuild its own country. We are safer. It’s not going to be a source of terrorist attacks again,” he added.
If that message sounds familiar, it's because virtually the same message was delivered on Dec. 14, 2011 at Fort Bragg, NC. That’s when Obama announced that "America’s war in Iraq will be over” and that "we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant” nation. That would be the same Iraq where, swiftly after Obama's precipitous military withdrawal, Islamic militants embarked on a barbaric campaign of terror, seizing large swaths of Iraqi territory and wiping out much of the security gains achieved through the loss of thousands of American lives in that country.
American troops decisively won the war in Iraq. And just as decisively, Obama threw that victory away.
Our enemies in Afghanistan have taken the lesson of Iraq to heart. A day after Obama’s formal announcement on the 28th, the Taliban declared the U.S. and its allies had been defeated. “ISAF [International Security Assistance Force] rolled up its flag in an atmosphere of failure and disappointment without having achieved anything substantial or tangible," Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement emailed Monday. With regard to the president's assurance that Afghan forces are ready to “take the lead for their own security,” Mujahid vowed,
The demoralized American-built forces will constantly be dealt defeats just like their masters. Tens of thousands of soldiers were killed and wounded, billions of dollars wasted, their nations were exhausted, their countries faced economic turmoil and even recession, their generals failed one after the other and they lost their stature and prestige internationally. Our courageous nation shall continue its Jihad and struggle so long as a single foreigner remains in Afghanistan in a military uniform.
Thus, Obama’s assertion that Afghanistan will never again be a “source” for terrorist attacks rings exceedingly hollow. Moreover, Obama, the Democratic Party and the American left in general would like the nation to forget that, in their mission to discredit President George W. Bush’s efforts in Iraq -- what they thought was the surest route to the Oval Office in 2004 -- they were constantly casting the conflict in Afghanistan as the “good war,” the “war that has to be won,” as Obama once said. Afghanistan was deemed by Obama, Hillary Clinton and others as the "central front in the war on terror,” which the US had “diverted our attention from” due to the Bush administration’s alleged “war for oil.”
As with the Islamic radicals sweeping Iraq, in Afghanistan, too, the Taliban will ultimately return, bringing with it the same brutal treatment of women, the same totalitarian version of Sharia, and the same determination to provide a haven to Al Qaeda and others that defined its rule of Afghanistan from 1996 until 2001— and provided the impetus for the worst domestic attack America has ever endured. For his part, President Obama is not merely resigned to the enemy’s triumphant return, but appears to be actively facilitating it as well. It was the Obama administration that delivered five top commanders back to the Taliban in exchange for the token Bowe Bergdahl, a deserter whose own commanders deemed not worth the cost of retrieval. The Obama administration has also indicated that it will ignore Taliban activity on the ground while U.S. forces remain in the country. As Admiral John Kirby told reporters in December, “we're not going to target...simply by virtue of the fact that they're Taliban.”
Is there anything that makes more of a mockery of the 2,216 Americans killed and 19,950 Americans wounded during Operation Enduring Freedom than the notion that we will now be presiding over the resurgence of the enemy? And even as this unconscionable surrender is taking place, the same Democrats who championed our involvement there remain silent. When the same mass executions and beheadings of innocents perpetrated by ISIS in Iraq are meted out by the equally bloodthirsty Taliban in Afghanistan, Democrats will be silent then as well, as they bury the history of their fervent support for the good Afghanistan war in time for the next election.
Indeed, the bloodletting has already begun in Afghanistan. The New York Times obtained official Afghan data revealing that 2014 was the deadliest year for Afghan police, soldiers and civilians since the war began in 2001. More than 5,000 police officers and soldiers were killed, and the civilian death toll will top 10,000. Those totals are substantially higher than 3,500 coalition deaths killed over the course of the entire war. The reason for the ramped up intensity is painfully obvious. "One of the differences is that this year, the American forces, and their close air support, have been almost completely absent from the field,” the Times explains. "And though the Afghan forces are holding on, for the most part, they are taking punishingly heavy losses.”
In a tacit acknowledgement of the ill wisdom of withdrawal and the falsity of claims of stability in Afghanistan, the Obama administration is deviating from its objective of vacating the country in 2015. Despite promising that our “combat mission” is over, a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report released Dec. 2, states that the United States "plans to keep 9,800 U.S. forces in Afghanistan during 2015 mostly as advisers and trainers.” They will be joined by an additional "3,000 partner forces from various NATO and other countries.”
However, other sources, such as the Wall Street Journal, put the overall total of troops at 18,000, of which 10,600 will be American. The discrepancy in the two totals is explained by a Nov. 21, 2014 report by the New York Times revealing that Obama authorized a "more expansive” military mission for 2015 than originally anticipated, characterizing it as "a move that ensures American troops will have a direct role in fighting in the war-ravaged country for at least another year.”
Part of the reason for this unanticipated increase in troop commitment is revealed elsewhere in the Dec. 2 CRS report, which states that the Obama Defense Department "has expressed concerns that Al Qaeda could regroup in Afghanistan if the security situation there becomes unstable.” It is probable that the DOD has more than mere concerns about Al Qaeda's resurgence. After all, if the far more advanced and organized nation of Iraq has been brought to the brink of disintegration by Islamic terrorists, how likely is it that Afghanistan will fare any better?
The answer to this question was powerfully reflected in the ceremony marking the status of forces change, during which ISAF Commander Gen. John Campbell switched out the green-and-white ISAF flag with the flag of the new mission and which took place quietly at a basketball court inside ISAF’s headquarters in the Afghan capital city of Kabul. The public was kept away, and the WSJ explains why. “Fearing Taliban attacks, the base was on high alert,” it states. “Nonresident staff was told to stay home, and facilities like shops and coffee bars were closed for the day.”
The explosive situation on the ground bodes poorly for hopes of success. And lest anyone get the impression that Obama's decision to commit to greater residual forces is being done out of a sense of responsibility, the New York Times reveals the real reason for the sudden change. The paper cites the collapse of Iraqi defense forces and the lingering mistrust between the president and his military advisors with regard to the 2009 troop surge into Afghanistan. "Some of the president’s civilian advisers say that decision was made only because of excessive Pentagon pressure, and some military officials say it was half-baked and made with an eye to domestic politics,” the paper explains.
With regard to domestic politics, there is little doubt Obama is attempting to trumpet his “success" in ending another war, even if it ultimately echoes the Iraqi debacle. The “no boots on the ground” mantra in that nation was scrapped last August when 1,500 American troops were sent back to “advise” the collapsing Iraqi army. Obama authorized an additional 1,500 troops in November, and if a report by Kurdish source Shafaq News is accurate, some of those American “advisors” have engaged in direct combat with ISIS. By the time a similar disintegration scenario unfolds in Afghanistan, Obama will likely be out of office.
In the meantime, the real message the president has delivered to the perpetrators of global terror is clear: America no longer has the will or the staying power to pursue victory. Like so much of the leftist agenda, all that matters is the narrative, and in this case Obama has simply declared combat operations in Afghanistan to be over, irrespective of events on the ground. He assures Americans that Afghanistan will never be a haven for terror again, even as Taliban terrorists who killed and wounded American troops will now be given a free pass. And if it all goes horribly wrong, Obama and his fellow travelers will feign surprise and completely avoid responsibility for the bloodbath that ensues.
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