News Columns & Blogs

Pro-con: Should U.S. pull out of Afghanistan?

President Obama should set a timetable to get our troops out of Afghanistan as soon as is practically possible. Their presence cannot contribute to bringing peace and security to that country, nor does it contribute to the security of the United States. In fact, the occupation of Afghanistan is making things worse. The United States has helped put together a government dominated in key positions — especially military, police and intelligence — by Tajiks, the ethnic group whose paramilitary leaders were the first to strike a deal with the invading forces. Not surprisingly, this contributed to the nationalist fuel for the insurgency among the Pashtuns, the country's largest ethnic group. This contribution to ethnic conflict is a common mistake, or sometimes a tactic, of occupying powers that helps drive lasting and violent civil wars. — Mark Weisbrot, Center for Economic and Policy Research

There are many reasons for hunkering down in Afghanistan and adopting a tougher military strategy so Americans and their NATO allies can finally leave behind a more stable — though barely democratic — Middle East. New York City, Philadelphia, Denver, Springfield, Ill., and the U.S. Marine Corps base at Quantico, Va., are high among those reasons. All five places were prime targets of suspected radical Islamic jihadists, as emerged from plots the FBI and local police nixed in September. Most of the would-be terrorists the FBI has identified and arrested had trained at various al-Qaida camps in or near Afghanistan. And all of them had gained cover in the United States by posing as normal members of moderate Muslim communities. — Bogdan Kipling, for McClatchy-Tribune News Service