The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

Opinion

June 30, 2013

U.S. should not ignore Afghanistan

The Tuscaloosa News on Afghanistan:

Afghanistan is littered with the bones of soldiers from foreign countries. During the past 12 years, the blood of American soldiers has mingled in Afghanistan’s soil with the 19th-century blood of British Redcoats and 20th-century blood from what was then the Soviet’s Union’s Red Army. Others will likely fight and die there in the future.

That is the history of Afghanistan. Some would say that is its nature. It is hard to know whether peace talks with the Taliban will change anything.

Unfortunately, President Barack Obama tipped his hand and set a deadline for the withdrawal of American troops. Hardened resistance fighters who have battled a better equipped, better trained foe for more than a decade now know that they can simply wait it out. Is the Taliban genuinely interested in a political solution after so many years of war? Or are they simply buying time? We suspect the latter. It’s very hard to tell.

Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution said American should approach talks with “low expectations.” He believes the Taliban “expect to win the war once NATO is largely gone in 2015.”

There was a time when journalism professors cautioned their students against what they then called “Afghanistanism.” ...

Americans turned away from the backward distant land once their mortal enemy was gone. Little did they know that in the not too distant future, they would return to fight and, ironically, their enemy would be some of the same people they supported against the Soviets.

In the years between the Soviet departure and the American invasion, the Taliban came to power, running the country like a medieval oligarchy.

Without a doubt, the blood spilled on Afghan soil helped eliminate a threat to our homeland. While the battle has raged, Americans have lived in relative security. Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan. The threat from al-Qaida appears greatly reduced.

But is the job done? That’s a question that only the future can answer. For now, we’ve decided to go home. Hopefully, we’ll never need to return.

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