Defense Secretary Panetta Believes in a Strong, Extended Presence in Afghanistan

By on December 3, 2012

by Ezra Van Auken

The Obama administration has worked diligently to assure a US military presence in Afghanistan past 2014, yet the administration has also remained quiet about their decisions to the American public. Afghanistan’s war in 2012 has caused much distress, resulting in many suicides and Western soldiers deliberately wounding themselves to leave the decade-long war that is now looking to be prolonged.

According to the Wall St. Journal, the US general who has been overseeing the operation in Afghanistan, John Allen, is accepting and supporting the idea of a troop presence past 2014. Gen. Allen believes 6,000 to 15,000 should remain inside the country and officials in Obama’s administration look to be narrowing down a deal with the Pentagon to keep around 10,000 men and women.

Last week, White House press secretary, Jay Carney, told reporters at a briefing that, “He will evaluate proposals from the Pentagon and elsewhere on what we might negotiate with the Afghan government on a future presence in Afghanistan,” and went on to say that Obama would keep a “limited” stay.

On the other side of the isle, George Little the Pentagon’s spokesperson, said, “At the appropriate time, the president will make decisions about the future scope and size of our presence in Afghanistan based on what is in our national interest and in coordination with our Afghan and [North Atlantic Treaty Organization] partners,” not going into any detail about what has been or is being discussed.

At the Pentagon this past Thursday, Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, told listeners at a news conference he believed it was important to maintain a bold footprint in Afghanistan. Panetta explained, “The fundamental mission in Afghanistan is to establish an Afghanistan that can be secure and govern itself and ensure that al-Qaida never again finds a safe haven within Afghanistan from which to conduct attacks on the United States or any other country. The goal here is an enduring presence.” What Panetta doesn’t realize is that militant groups have been roaming the Middle East for centuries.

Panetta also remarked on the fact that Western forces in Afghanistan have curtailed militant groups and continue to make an impact. Although, it seems like the exact opposite has happened, especially with the increase in green-on-blue attacks by militant groups. As SLN reported in September, US and other officials agreed to suspend training Afghan soldiers because of the dramatic increase of insider attacks. There had been around 45 soldiers killed in the span of just months.

In addition, many are skeptical as to how well Afghani government forces will hold up once Western troops leave. For instance, when most of the US presence picked up and left Iraq, the border turned into a highway for extremist groups. This eventually led to a redeployment of a few hundred US special operations troops due to the spillover of Syria’s overthrow, which is also being funded by the US.

“We have no constitutional authority to police the world or involve ourselves in nation building, in making the world safe for our style of democracy. Our founders advised against it and the early presidents followed that advice. If we believe strongly in our ideals, the best way to spread them is to set a good example so that others will voluntarily emulate us. Force will not work. Besides, we do not have the money.” –Ron Paul

 

Image Reference

Report challenges key Pentagon spending assumption – Yahoo! News. (n.d.). Yahoo! News – Latest News & Headlines. Retrieved from http://news.yahoo.com/report-challenges-key-pentagon-spending-assumption-015834696.html

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