President Obama announced last week the implementation of a surge in Afghanistan, similar to the one in Iraq. Having already discussed why this is a poor strategy, I would like to take this opportunity to instead question the motive. In explaining the purpose of the surge, Obama said,
"We must deny al-Qaeda a safe haven, we must reverse the Taliban's momentum...and we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan's security forces and government."
Let us take each of these three goals in turn.
Obama first seeks to deny al-Qaeda safe haven. However, it is widely known that most of the remnant of the terrorist organization, including Osama Bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahri are hiding in the Federally Administered Tribal Region (FATA) of Pakistan and establishing training camps there.
Even if we left Afghanistan tomorrow, this region, protected by Pakistani sovereignty, will remain a more secure location for their operations than chaotic Afghanistan.
The second goal of the president is to reverse the momentum of the Taliban. However, the current Taliban is not the united force that it was in 2001, but rather a group of various drug lords and religious extremists, united much more by their opposition to American presence than any single objective. In fact, if history teaches us anything, this ragtag coalition will turn against each other once the American forces are removed.
The third objective is perhaps the most ludicrous. The Karzai government is a highly corrupt and undemocratic kleptocracy, that is as much involved in the drug trade as the Taliban. Strengthening the Afghan government and military is no better than picking a favorite among the various equally objectionable and power-hungry factions within Afghanistan.
The president insists that our continued and increased presence in Afghanistan is vital to our national security. I say we are simply risking our soldiers' lives in defense of a dictatorship against its rivals for power and in pursuit of an enemy that vanished from its borders long ago. It is time to go.