Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The Goldilocks Strategy in Afghanistan

The President announced tonight that our troops are coming home from Afghanistan, too soon for Sean Hannity, not soon enough for Rachel Maddow.

For me, the problem with staying a lot longer is that we are propping up the corrupt Hamid Karzai, and that's incrasingly becoming our only reason to be there. Being gone well before the next scheduled Afghan Presidential election in 2014 means he has to stand on his own.

Our primary beef with the Taliban is that they harbored Osama Bin Ladin. And for that we have decimated their ranks a couple of times over, with 38,000 Taliban killed or captured over the last nine and a half years.

The risk is that this announcement may draw increasing numbers of Taliban fighters into Afghanistan from their tribal bases in Pakistan. But if they move before we fully withdraw, they will expose themselves to attack in Afghanistan, without the restrictions on use of military force we face fighting the drone war against them in Pakistan with two hands tied behind our back.

If Karzai collapses, we can't let the Taliban come back in without credible assurances on human rights and not supporting terrorism. But a collapse might open an opportunity for new Afghan leadership, such as Abdullah Abdullah who lost to Karzai in the 2009 election that was rife with fraud.

That may be the real strategy behind President Obama's decision. It can't be an accident that Abdullah has named his movement the Coalition for Change and Hope. So you know whose support he is trying to get.

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