Monday, 21 May 2012

NATO Summit - Afghanistan - Rush to the Exit

When President Obama took office, almost three and a half years ago, he said that Afghanistan was the justified war, while he said he would end the war in Iraq.  One can argue about how the war in Iraq was ended and whether or not it created more security problems in the region, but as far as Afghanistan is concerned, there now appears to be a rush to the exit.  There seems to be no regard for the conditions on the ground.

France will have its troops out of Afghanistan by the end of this year.  Australia has already announced that it will leave a year early and the Canadian government has indicated that it has done more than its fair share and will not extend its training mission beyond 2014.

President Obama said yesterday that the war in Afghanistan is over as we know it.  Really?  1965 US soldiers have paid the ultimate price as of last Friday Read More, including just six last week.

NATO issued a declaration on Afghanistan overnight.

 "We are gradually and responsibly drawing down our forces to complete the ISAF mission by 31 December 2014. By the end of 2014, when the Afghan Authorities will have full security responsibility, the NATO-led combat mission will end."

The United Kingdom had 414 of its soldiers killed in action, Canada 158, France 82, Germany 53, Italy 46, Denmark 42, Poland 35, Spain 34 and Australia 32, just to name a few.  Overall 3006 NATO soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan.  Add to that those wounded and psychologically damaged, one must ask the question if the cost was worth it.

The Taliban is hardly defeated, despite the positive spin that the President is trying to put on the war.  The Karzai government is corrupt and yet it is the best partner NATO has in the devastated region.  It is anticipated that $4.2 Billion is required to fund Afghanistan's military post the NATO withdrawal, of which the US is expected to pay about half.

Let's be clear, the decisions being taken in regards to the NATO mission have nothing to do with the conditions on the ground but are merely being taken for political expediency.  It is no accident that those decisions are being announced during the President's re-election campaign.  They are all part of a check list for improving re-election efforts.

While the public is tired of war, more respect should be shown for the price that soldiers and their families have paid.  While most of them are volunteers, none of them asked to go to Afghanistan.  It is  not the soldier that starts wars. It is the politician.  Now the politician is turning his/her very back  on those they tasked to fight their war.  

At the very least politicians could be honest with the public and show respect for the soldiers, many way too young to realize what they are getting themselves into.

This travesty is amplified upon the soldiers return. The soldier has to fight for proper care and in most instances is unable to find employment.  Not only is the politician to blame, but also the media that has not done enough to highlight the plight of veterans. Does this look like Vietnam all over again?

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