Monday, January 11, 2010

My recently published letter to The LEO (magazine) regarding Obama's decision to send more troops to Afghanistan

January 6, 2010

Letters to the Editor: Obama Has It Right

I have to disagree with both Stephen George and Jim Welp in their assessments of the president’s decision to send more troops to Afghanistan. Obama repeatedly campaigned on the issue of reducing troop levels in Iraq to increase troop levels in Afghanistan. He campaigned on capturing or killing bin Laden. He mentioned it in nearly every speech I heard him give.

There are many national security issues I think Obama has gotten wrong. He should have joined our NATO partners in supporting a ban on landmines. He should support criminal charges against members of the Bush administration. He should be supporting the pro-democracy movement in Iran. He should make a commitment to never issue an air strike that might put civilians in jeopardy no matter how high profile the target. And he should support re-opening investigations into 9/11.

But on the issue of troop levels in Afghanistan, I think he has it right.

The United States, USSR, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other nations are responsible for Afghanistan becoming a failed state. The United States funded an insurgency in order to “knowingly increase the chances” that the USSR would invade. The United States and USSR left Afghanistan in the “stone age.” The Afghanis didn’t do that to themselves. With no government and hence no law and order, a band of illiterate, far-right wing religious nuts were able to take over in 1996 and create the most brutal government of our age.

In Afghanistan, we are faced with roughly two choices. We could pull out immediately, which would be devastating to both international security and to the human rights of the Afghanis (who deserve the same rights that we do). Or we can increase troops to the levels that our military commanders say is necessary to stabilize the country and to capture or kill the leadership of al-Qaida and the Taliban, so we can leave things in better shape for both ourselves and the Afghanis.

Abel Ashes, Highlands


  1. KABUL, Jan. 11, 2010
    Poll: 7 in 10 Afghans Support US Forces
    Reversing Decline, Now More Afghans Also Think Nation is Headed in Right Direction; 10 Percent Nationwide Support Taliban

  2. What I should have included in the letter was that the US needs to do more to demand equal rights for women and to generally insist that the Afghan government make human rights one of its top priorities, along with security, economics, and infrastructure