Tags: Afghanistan | War on Terrorism | david petraeus | withdrawal | afghanistan | jihadists | terror

Gen. Petraeus: US Withdrawal Would Leave Afghanistan at Jihadists' Mercy

By    |   Tuesday, 07 Jul 2015 11:19 PM

President Barack Obama would be leaving Afghanistan – and America – vulnerable to jihadist terrorism if he pulls all U.S. combat forces from the former al-Qaeda sanctuary in 2016, retired four-star Gen. David Petraeus warns.

In an op-ed commentary in the Washington Post Tuesday night, Petraeus, who led the troop surge that helped turn the war effort around in Afghanistan in 2010-11, and Brookings Institution senior fellow Michael O'Hanlon argue the United States "can schedule an end to our role in that nation’s conflict, but we cannot schedule an end to the war there or an end to the threat from al-Qaeda, the Islamic State or other extremist elements of the global jihad."

It will be costly to remain there, not only because of the expected loss of American lives – but also in the $5 billion to $10 billion a year in U.S. military expenses, they concede.

And add to that another $2 billion to $3 billion to help sustain Afghan forces at their current size, they write.

"But compared with the investment to date, of well over 2,000 American lives and nearly $1 trillion in expense, and compared with the specter of another major terrorist attack against the U.S. homeland devised or launched out of a South Asian terrorist sanctuary, such costs are bearable — and the right call for this nation," they argue.

The respected military leader and O'Hanlon say though Obama "has been criticized for trying to rush out of wars to satisfy campaign promises," he's been "relatively resolute in Afghanistan."

About 10,000 U.S. troops are still fighting in support of "what is principally now an Afghan-led and Afghan-dominated mission," they write.

"Unfortunately, having displayed such patience, the president is now assuming that neither his successor nor the American public has the desire — or stomach — to continue even a modest U.S. effort in Afghanistan after 2016," they write.

But his plan to remove all operational combat forces by 2016 "raises considerable questions."

"The right approach is for Obama to protect our investment in Afghanistan and to hand off to his successor military forces and tools that will still be critically needed in 2017 and beyond," they say.

"We went to Afghanistan for a compelling reason: to ensure that Afghanistan never again served as a sanctuary for al-Qaeda, as it did when the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks were planned there under the Taliban. The importance of that mission continues."

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President Barack Obama would be leaving Afghanistan – and America – vulnerable to jihadist terrorism if he pulls all U.S. combat forces from the former al-Qaeda sanctuary in 2016, retired four-star Gen. David Petraeus warns.
david petraeus, withdrawal, afghanistan, jihadists, terror
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2015-19-07
Tuesday, 07 Jul 2015 11:19 PM
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