Pullout is responsible

Just as President Bush was right to send the U.S. military into Afghanistan after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on this country, vowing to “meet violence with patient justice ,” President Obama is right to start pulling out troops now.

It’s time for a measured and responsible drawdown, especially with Osama bin Laden dead, Afghans impatient to take more responsibility for their security, and the American economy demanding leaders’ full attention.

In sharp contrast to the flag-waving mass approval of Bush’s decision to go in, Obama is getting some flak for the pullout plan he announced Wednesday.

Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, criticized Obama’s “rapid and telegraphed withdrawal,” also saying in a statement: “While I agree a drawdown of our troops in Afghanistan is necessary, I am very concerned that President Obama has placed political expediency over experienced military judgment. . . . This decision puts both the lives of American troops and the gains made on the ground in Afghanistan at risk.”

But most Kansans are ready for a withdrawal. In a SurveyUSA poll, sponsored by KWCH, Channel 12, 69 percent agreed that the United States should bring the troops home during the next 18 months.

Obama’s specific timetable may be arguable, but this is no reckless retreat. The withdrawal of 10,000 of a total 99,000 troops by the end of this year and another 23,000 by the end of next summer will step back the troop “surge” announced in 2009. As Obama said: “Our mission will change from combat to support.”

Challenges remain in Afghanistan and, more broadly, in the fight against terrorism. The implementation of the pullout will be key. But thanks to the skill and sacrifice of the U.S. military and its partners, the days of the war in Afghanistan are numbered at last.