The recent massacre by a U.S. Army staff sergeant in Afghanistan increases the likelihood that President Barack Obama will pull American troops out of that wretched country in the near term. The accused U.S. soldier went walkabout in the middle of night on Sunday and gunned down at least 16 villagers.
Predictably, the incident has triggered anger in Afghanistan and elsewhere, and we are hearing calls for an early withdrawal of American troops, most notably from Newt Gingrich, a candidate for the GOP presidential nomination.
War is hell, folks, and these sorts of incidents are going to happen when nations send young men to fight in foreign wars thousands of miles from home. And they are especially predictable when such wars last more than a decade and have little or no connection to a nation’s vital national interests.
America and its NATO allies won the War in Afghanistan several years ago, after it had ousted the Taliban regime from power in Kabul and established the democratic Islamic Republic of Afghanistan under Hamid Karzai who was democratically elected by the Afghan people in the 2004 general elections.
The United States had put an end to the safe harbour the Taliban regime had provided to al-Qaeda, and should have withdrawn then. It could have continued semi-covert search and destroy missions against remnants of al-Qaeda in rural Afghanistan and the tribal areas of neighbouring Pakistan using special forces and airpower.
In the words of U.S. Representative Adam Smith: “Incidents such as this [Sunday’s shootings] underscore the fact that after 10 years of war, it is time to bring our troops home as soon as we responsibly can.” I agree.
America invaded Afghanistan in 2001 to end Taliban rule and the safe harbour it had provided the al Qaeda network. Objective met, so send the boys and girls home to their families.