I am disappointed by the timetable President Obama announced for withdrawing our neighbors and family members fighting in Afghanistan (June 23 story “Obama withdrawing 33,000 troops”). Our war in Afghanistan is not making Vancouver safer.
While many of our soldiers there have built infrastructure of benefit in many villages, our overall war effort has destroyed much more. Last year Afghanistan experienced the largest number of civilian casualties since the war began. This is unconscionable, as is the terrible cost our troops and their families are paying.
More than nine years after the 2001 invasion there are 250,000 foreign forces in Afghanistan: nearly 100,000 U.S. troops, 50,000 NATO troops and reports of 100,000 Pentagon-paid contractors. President Obama should have presented a bold new vision beginning with a cease-fire, a deadline for the withdrawal of all foreign forces, and a broad-based peace process that negotiates disarming militia forces and a political settlement. For us it means removing our military forces; for Afghans it means an innovative reconciliation process.
We must not abandon Afghanistan, but our troops must leave. Promotion of regional diplomacy, especially the resolution of the Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India, would do more for Afghanistan and U.S. security than President Obama’s war policy.