Can the US fix Afghanistan?


TERRENCE P. JEFFREY

THREE days after the 9/11 attacks both houses of Congress voted correctly—and without objectors—to authorize the President to use force against those who perpetrated the attacks and those who aided them.

Al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden had been living in Afghanistan, where the radical Islamist Taliban regime gave him sanctuary.

The US sought to end that regime, capture or kill bin Laden and other al-Qaida terrorists, and prevent Afghan territory from being used to harbor and train terrorists who could attack the United States in the future.

But President George W. Bush ultimately proposed a post-9/11 strategy that went beyond national defense.

“We are committed to freedom in Afghanistan, in Iraq and in a peaceful Palestine,” Bush said on May 1, 2003.

“The advance of freedom is the surest strategy to undermine the appeal of terror in the world,” he said. “Where freedom takes hold, hatred gives way to hope. When freedom takes hold, men and women turn to the peaceful pursuit of a better life. American values, and American interests, lead in the same direction. We stand for human liberty.”

When Barack Obama was elected President in 2008, the U.S. still had about 32,500 troops in Afghanistan, according to the Congressional Research Service. By the second quarter of fiscal 2011, Obama had increased those forces to 99,800. In the fourth quarter of fiscal 2016, as he prepared to leave office, there were still 9,800 there.

But have we eliminated the threat al-Qaida, and those who share its ideology, pose to the United States?

The most recent inspector general’s report on the US military mission in Afghanistan…



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