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A public policy blog from AEI
Remember back in 2010, when Vice President Joe Biden declared that Iraq “could be one of the great achievements of [the Obama] administration” taking credit for the success of the surge that both he and President Obama had opposed in the senate? Well, what is Joe saying now?
In a story headlined “Al Qaeda Forces in Iraq Take Over Fallujah and Ramadi,” the Associated Press reports:
Two Iraqi cities that were strongholds of Sunni insurgents during the U.S. war in the country are battlegrounds once more after al-Qaida militants largely took them over, fending off government forces that have been besieging them for days.
Now imagine that same AP headline a few years from now, except instead of “Al Qaeda Forces in Iraq Take Over Fallujah and Ramadi” it reads “Al Qaeda Forces In Afghanistan Take Over Kabul and Kandhar.”
Because that is precisely what will happen if the US does not ensure that we maintain a significant presence in Afghanistan after the NATO mission comes to an end later this year.
The Obama administration’s failure to secure a Strategic Framework Agreement with the Iraqi government, and its subsequent decision to withdraw all U.S. forces from the country, allowed al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) to make a comeback. Not only has al Qaeda surged forces into Syria, according to the Washington Post it has reestablished a safe haven in Iraq from which it has planned terrorist attacks against US targets outside Iraq. In 2012, AQI nearly pulled off a major attack on the US embassy in Jordan in 2012.
And now they have retaken major cities that were liberated with the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American servicemen and women.
The lesson is that the American withdrawal from Iraq left a security vacuum that allowed our enemies to regroup and regain lost ground. Look at what is happening in Iraq today, and imagine what might have happened if the US had followed the same strategy in Korea after the Korean War ended, or in Germany and Japan after World War II. The continued presence of US forces provided a security guarantee that allowed young free market democracies to rise up on the ashes of war.
The question is: do we want Afghanistan to follow the path of Iraq, or the path of Korea, Germany and Japan? Do we want to see the Taliban and al Qaeda take over cities liberated with American blood, and reestablish safe havens from which to plot new attacks?
In Afghanistan, Obama needs to act less like George McGovern and a little more like Harry Truman. Because we can’t afford another of Joe Biden’s “great achievements” in Afghanistan.
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