Bring our troops back

As summer cranks up and we approach the middle year, it is easy to forget President Obama made a promise to draw down troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2011. It appears this will be another promise made to be broken.

Secretary of Defense Robert Gates hinted to Michigan Senator and Armed Service Committee Chairmain Carl Levin’s call for at least a 15,000-troop reduction in Afghanistan might not happen.

I hardly remember why the U.S. is even in Afghanistan, and I still don’t know the real reason for invading Iraq.

The U.S. and coalition forces invaded Afghanistan a few months after the September 11 attacks. Since al-Qaida and their leader, Osama bin Laden, were responsible for the attacks and the Taliban were harboring them, we invaded. The War of Terror had begun.

That was 10 years ago. According to a March 2011 Congressional Research Service report, the U.S. has spent about $1.283 trillion in Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s $806 billion for Iraq and $444 billion in Afghanistan.

I keep thinking of the slashes being made to local governments and universities and wonder if the President kept his promise, would our tuition not have to be raised or as many staff laid off or as many programs cut?

In Afghanistan, corruption and ineptitude have plagued the country since the invasion. According to a Los Angeles Times article, U.S. aid money barely reaches its purpose to build bridges, schools and other infrastructure needed to create a stable country.

All this comes at a time when, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers, our infrastructure grade is a D. And according to a 2010 Nation magazine article, much of the money is paid to the Taliban, which is then used to help kill our troops. It’s a great system. Seems well planned out, even after 10 years.

If we invaded Afghanistan to kill Osama bin Laden and root out his organization, hasn’t that mission been achieved? A few months ago CIA Director Leon Panetta said less than 100 al-Qaida members remain in Afghanistan. Osama bin Laden was killed in May – though in Pakistan. The Taliban has no interest in attacking America. In fact, Secretary Gates has acknowledged the U.S. and the Taliban are in preliminary negotiations over ending the war.

So, we’ve killed the mastermind of the September 11 attacks, we’ve destroyed al-Qaida, we’ve damaged our image and prestige and spent over a trillion dollars doing it. I can’t think of a reason not to declare victory and bring our troops home.

A terrorist such as bin Laden can plan an attack from anywhere in the world. Our political leaders must not think very highly of us. I don’t believe hundreds of thousands of troops and private contractors in a single country will keep me any safer than looking both ways before crossing the street. And the latter doesn’t cost trillions of dollars.

I’m sure contractors and other war profiteers will howl at the notion of ending these “wars.” But if the media and American people can stop thinking about former Congressman Anthony Weiner for a minute and focus on real issues, maybe our calls to return our troops home and return our nation to a little sanity will be louder.


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