Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Obama’s delay in Afghanistan kills Americans.

During the Presidential campaign, Sen. Obama lambasted the Bush Administration and painted McCain as Bush 2.0 in regards to the war in Iraq. Part of the disdain was due to a lack of an exit plan in Iraq by the Bush administration. Prior to leaving office President Bush did set an 18-month timetable that was acceptable by both the Generals on the ground and the new Iraqi government. President Obama is keeping the plan intact rather than following up with his campaign promise to get combat troops out of Iraq by the end of his first year. In addition to his promise to draw down troops was the switch in focus on the "War on terror". That switch in focus was to take place in Afghanistan.

America enters the final week of October without a clear plan of action for Afghanistan. One of the concerns many had with Sen. Obama was his lack of foreign policy experience. President Obama has met with Gen. McChrystal only twice who has asked for an additional 40,000 troops. During a speech given to troops in Jacksonville, Fla., the president said, "I will never rush the solemn decision of sending you into harm's way. I won't risk your lives unless it is absolutely necessary. And if it is necessary, we will back you up to the hilt." While the president crafts a strategy we continue to see more and more troops being killed. According to icasualties.org 267 U.S. troops have been killed thus far this year compared to 155 being killed all of last year in Afghanistan.

It has been nearly 10 months since Obama has taken office. Granted some data and situations have changed on the ground but in the grand scheme of things little has changed. It appears that an increase in troops may part of the answer with Sen. Kerry (D-Mass.) stating that he'd "support a decision by President Obama to 'send some additional troops' provided improvements are made in Afghan troop training and government, and civilian aid efforts are increased" (http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-obama-afghan27-2009oct27,0,7820767.story). Yet, Sen. Kerry believes that 20,000 troops would be enough and not the 40,000 that Gen. McChrystal is looking for.

Perhaps a bold move in Afghanistan is required in light of the resignation of United State Senior Civilian Representative Matthew Hoh. Hoh said his decision was not because of any political ideology; rather on the current and potential strategies. Hoh said, "I'm not some peacenik, pot-smoking hippie who wants everyone to be in love. I have doubts and reservations about our current strategy and planned future strategy, but my resignation is based not upon how we are pursuing this war, but why and to what end" (http://www.examiner.com/x-4454-Chicago-Geopolitics-Examiner~y2009m10d28-US-diplomat-resigns-over-Afghan-war-and-puts-Obama-on-hot-seat). Mr. Hoh raises a great question in regards to our involvement in a war that has raged for over 8 years; is U.S. presence really having the desired effects.

"I have observed that the bulk of the insurgency fights not for the white banner of the Taliban, but rather against the presence of foreign soldiers and taxes imposed by an unrepresentative government in Kabul," stated Hoh. There is a run-off election going on in Afghanistan because objections were raised over the previous election results. The bumper crop in Afghanistan is opium. According to the United Nations, the market for "Afghan opium, heroin or morphine is about $65 billion per year" (http://blogs.kansascity.com/crime_scene/2009/10/opium-afghanistans-other-big-problem.html). These funds create a cash cow for the drug lords and terror networks in Afghanistan. It also employees the peasants, the very peasants that NATO is claiming to "liberate". Now why would these peasants want to be liberated if that means their job will go away as well?

President Obama has been given the opportunity to make a drastic change in the drug war and the war on terror. Especially in light of a report that is linking Ahmed Wali Karzai, the brother of Afghan President, to the opium trade and the Central Intelligence Agency payroll. For decades Americans have seen taxpayer dollars being poured down the abyss known as the war on drugs. It is time for a drastic change. The plan is twofold.

First, President Obama needs to stand up and establish a plan – today – that will remove troop presence in Afghanistan within the next six months. Some will argue that pulling out of Afghanistan will only increase the fervor of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda as it will be the second "Super Power" they have defeated. Allow them to think this as part two of the plan will greatly decrease their cash cow to fund their recruitment, training, and funding in carrying out attacks on Western targets.

Second, legalize illegal drugs. It is time for Americans to accept that drug use exists and to concede the war on drugs. The legalization of the drug market will have many benefits to American society. The benefits are:

  1. Remove a cash cow from terror networks, street gangs and drug cartels.
  2. Regulate the purity to reduce the risk of "hot" doses.
  3. A revenue strain for the government through taxation along the lines of alcohol and tobacco.
  4. Increase treatment of illicit drug users by removing the stigma.
  5. Reduce prison populations thus saving taxpayer's money.

I understand that this is not a popular decision but neither is watching billions of dollars being wasted on the drug war. President Obama needs to act now on Afghanistan before more of our troops die needlessly. We need change we can believe in. Why not remove the troops while legalizing illicit drugs?