April 8, 2013

We Can't Leave Afghanistan Now When We're So Close to Achieving Our Goal of Staying There Forever


By DONALD RUMSFELD, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE

With American troops scheduled to leave Afghanistan in December of 2014, we are going in a dangerous direction in the Middle East, leaving that country in a perilous position in the region, the Afghans floundering for direction, and our standing in the world in question. The timing of the move is also incredibly troubling. President Obama has made the decision to remove troops just as we’re finally within reach of achieving the goal me and the Bush administration set forth from the beginning: leaving our troops in that country until the end of time.

We have already made the same mistake in Iraq. After already spending a trillion dollars and expending thousands of American lives, the only logical thing to do would have been to leave our military there to see the conflict through to the end, which of course doesn’t exist.

Just this past weekend, six Americans were killed by militant attacks in Afghanistan, and I would hate to think that they died in vain, for a war that will simply one day end. I can think of no better way to honor the already fallen troops than to ensure that we meet the objective of leaving their comrades there forever.

America has never been a country that reneged on its promises. Not only are we bespoiling the good name of our military by ending this war, we must also think of the Afghan people. We have now been in their country for well over a decade, and many Afghans don’t even know a world in which American troops are not a constant presence in their cities, on their streets, and in their homes. Are we supposed to simply walk away from our commitment of being there from now to eternity?

We must reconsider our plan to end the Afghanistan war. I have seen so many conflicts end in my lifetime — World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, two wars in Iraq — it would be a tragedy to see this one tossed on the scrapheap of wars that are over. I started the Afghanistan war, and from the start envisioned it as a war that generations of Americans could tell their children and grandchildren about before eventually sending them to when they’re of age; and then those soldiers could do the same with their children and grandchildren. And on and on and on.

After all, what’s the point of having endless wars if they’re going to one day be over?