This week, France began pulling approximately 2,100 combat troops out of Afghanistan in a surprising early retreat. NATO expected France’s full commitment until 2014. “Today is the end of our forward operations. By the end of the year, we will have 1,500 French troops remaining in Afghanistan in non-combat operations,” said Lt. Col Guillaume Leroy (Reuters Nov. 20, 2012). Those non-combat jobs include supply logistics as well as training operations for Afghanistan’s army, which is scheduled to take control of its country’s situation in 2014, after NATO troops make their way out.
Francois Hollande defeated French President Nicolas Sarkozy in a presidential runoff in 2012 and promised to help dig France, and Europe, out of a weak economy (CNN Wire May 6, 2012). Exiting the fight is a solution for a floundering French economy, not to mention a classically defeatist French military move.
But perhaps the United States under President Obama should follow suit. It might help the US economy.
Here are some compelling comments from a Baltimore Sun talk forum thread (posted Dec. 9th, 2012):
|Today, 04:47 PM|
Ah Bush has not been President for four years. Obama has not only continued the US presence there but drastically increased troop numbers. How long does he, have to be President before Afghanistan becomes, his war?
|Today, 05:46 PM|
Now if we could just follow the French’s lead.
Taliban government gone? Check
Though I suppose we’ll be out of there just like were out of Germany, Japan, Korea and Iraq.
The announcement of early French withdrawal from combat operations in Afghanistan brings to my mind another United States initiative that needs closure due to serious moral and financial questionability: Gitmo. President Obama, now in his fifth year as Commander in Chief, still has not closed Guantanamo Bay Prison – an issue he campaigned on in 2008. Why not? No doubt the politics of fear are complex and shadowy, but a careful plan for evacuating all of the prisoners was never completed by the bureaucratic task force established to review such a process.
“…Obama’s executive order to close Guantánamo was undone by the burdensome bureaucracy of the task force, which sought to sort each captive’s Bush-era file. Each detainee’s case file contained competing and often contradictory assessments from the Defense Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon’s Office of Military Commissions, the Department of Justice, and myriad other offices, bogging down the review process. Time ran out before the task force could settle on a master plan to move the detainees out of Guantánamo in time for Obama’s one-year deadline…. Meanwhile, the detention center enters its eleventh year on January 11 . Guantánamo is arguably the most expensive prison camp on earth, with a staff of 1,850 U.S. troops and civilians managing a compound that contains 171 captives, at a cost of $800,000 a year per detainee. Of those 171 prisoners, just six are facing Pentagon tribunals that may start a year from now after pretrial hearings and discovery. Guantánamo today is the place that Obama cannot close. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Carol Rosenberg, a reporter for The Miami Herald who covers the U.S. Navy base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.”
Even though President Obama does not want to be seen as being soft on terrorism he should still close Guantanamo Bay Prison. It would be a major step and graceful beginning to winding down wartime activity in Afghanistan. Furthermore, if President Obama takes the cue from its NATO counterpart France to withdraw sooner, I might be the first time an American President has taken political cues from France since the US’s founding fathers did so in the late 1700s.