February 25, 2014 | Quote
Obama About to Repeat Iraq Disaster
Reuters is reporting “U.S. President Barack Obama has told the Pentagon to prepare for the possibility that the United States will not leave behind any troops in Afghanistan after its troop drawdown at the end of this year, the White House said on Tuesday. . . . [Defense Secretary Chuck] Hagel said planning for what is known as ‘the zero option’ is a prudent step given that [Afghan President Hamid] Karzai has made clear he is unlikely to sign the security deal. ‘As the United States military continues to move people and equipment out of the Afghan theater, our force posture over the next several months will provide various options for political leaders in the United States and NATO,’ Hagel said in a statement.”
Actually, threatening to bug out entirely and bashing Karzai in public aren’t prudent in the least. For starters, as one expert on Afghanistan reminded me, elections are coming up. With Karzai leaving, this sort of public spat serves no one’s interests, aside from White House aides who want this so-called “zero option.”
I asked Thomas Donnelly of the American Enterprise Institute, a critic of the administration’s handling of Afghanistan, if we were on the verge of losing Afghanistan as we did in Iraq when Obama pulled all troops out only to see Iran increase its influence and sectarian violence resume. He answered, “If we don’t keep a useful number of troops there and convince the Afghans that we won’t bug out at the first excuse, things are unlikely to go well. And I’m less concerned with ‘losing’ Afghanistan than having to fight for it again.”
Reuel Marc Gerecht of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies is likewise gloomy: “We will likely have civil war in Afghanistan within a year or so. It’s reasonable to guess that Ayman az-Zawahiri could even reappear in Jallalabad, which is where bin Ladin landed in ’96. This could become excruciatingly surreal and dangerous. Possibly even a greater defeat for the United States than Obama’s flight from Iraq and the red-line fiasco in Syria.” The danger here is that Afghanistan’s central government crumbles, the most dogged Taliban fighters gain the upper hand and back will come the jihadis (although many have found a home in Syria thanks to that Obama foreign policy debacle). Add to that the potential for growing support for the Taliban from the increasingly radicalized Pakistan army and you have a situation that looks remarkably like pre-Sept. 11 Afghanistan.