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Why Are We Still in Afghanistan? July 6, 2010

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Current Events, Dwight Furrow's Posts, politics.

CIA director Leon Panetta said last week that al-Qaeda has only a few militants left in Afghanistan:

“I think at most, we’re looking at maybe 50 to 100, maybe less. It’s in that vicinity. There’s no question that the main location of al-Qaeda is in tribal areas of Pakistan,” he said. Panetta added that “winning” in Afghanistan means “having a country that is stable enough to ensure that there is no safe haven for al-Qaeda or for a militant Taliban that welcomes Al Qaida.”

The original reason we sent troops to Afghanistan was to eliminate al-Qaeda—a task that has been largely accomplished according to Panetta.  But we lose about 100 troops per month and spend $100 Billion per year trying to eliminate the Taliban, who unlike al-Qaeda are indigenous to Afghanistan. In this task we get very little cooperation from the locals or the Afghan government. Our chances of succeeding under those circumstances are not good.

So why are we still there if our original goal is accomplished?

Now the administration is claiming the reason we stay is to prevent al-Qaeda from gaining a foothold in Pakistan and returning to Afghanistan if and when we leave.

But on Tuesday, Obama’s Director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter claimed there are only about 300 hundred al-Qaeda militants in Pakistan.  Here is Leiter in an interview with Newsweek’s Michal Isakoff

Leiter: I think [CIA director] Leon Panetta said on Sunday, and I agree with him, that in Afghanistan, you have a certain number, a relatively small number, 50 to 100. I think we have in Pakistan a larger number.

Q:  How many?

Leiter:  Upwards –more than 300, I would say.

As Glenn Greewald complained:

So between Afghanistan and Pakistan combined, there are a few hundred Al Qaeda members total.  All of this ongoing war and those hundreds of billions of dollars spent and those deaths and the decade of occupation, and those bombings and shootings and drone attacks and lawless prisons and habeas-stripping court precedents:  it’s all (ostensibly) for a few hundred extremists total hiding in remote tribal areas.  A few hundred.

This is a senseless policy and Obama needs to end it soon.

book-section-book-cover2Dwight Furrow is author of

Reviving the Left: The Need to Restore Liberal Values in America

For political commentary by Dwight Furrow visit: www.revivingliberalism.com



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