Turning point in Afghanistan

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

When Pres. Obama took office three years ago, he promised to end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. American troops have returned from Iraq, but troops are slated to stay in Afghanistan until 2014.

Recent events in Afghanistan have affected public opinion in Afghanistan and here at home. The burning of copies of the Koran as a security measure (prisoners were passing written notes in the books) has given locals a reason to be outraged at American troops.

The killing of 16 Afghan civilians on Monday by an alleged rogue American soldier has made a tense situation worse. Officials in the Afghan parliament has said people have run out of patience with foreign troops.

We are truly at a crossroads in this conflict.

When we began the war on terror back in 2001, toppling the Taliban in Afghanistan and eradicating Osama bin Laden and as much of Al-Qaeda as possible was the goal.

The expansion of the war to Iraq drained resources from Afghanistan and a renewed focus on Afghanistan occurred in the past few years. The problem with these conflicts is that our troops are being asked to do so much more than fight.

Nationbuilding is the term, and it is either the best thing for the military to do, or the worst, depending on your political philosophy. In the former Yugoslavia, Iraq and Afghanistan the military has kept the peace; fed the hungry; turned on the lights; built roads, bridges, schools, hospitals, water and sewer systems.

In thanks, we are universally loved by many, hated by our enemies.

The taxpayers of this nation have funded all of these non-combat operations because our leaders felt it was in our best interest to improve these nations. We have rebuilt our enemies since the Civil War.

But now, it appears that the mission has become unclear and the actions of a few people on both sides will determine if we continue to try to win in Afghanistan or simply declare victory and come home.

Since we have invested so much in tax dollars, lives and national reputation, it would truly be a shame if we simply walked away.

But we may have no other option but to do so.