Kunduz

The world is seeing what happens when a U.S. commander in chief decides the only thing he wants to be transparent about is his desire to leave fragile Middle Eastern countries alone with a rogues’ gallery of Islamic radical groups and nation states.

President Obama failed to renew a status of forces agreement with Iraq and pulled all U.S. troops out of the country in Dec. 2011, despite the risk of losing everything Americans fought and died for over the course of a decade. Al Qaeda in Iraq essentially mutated into the Islamic State group, and the country is a mess. (We won’t even talk about the president’s “red lines” in Syria, which turned into “red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.)

CNN reported Monday on a preview of what is to come if Mr. Obama exits too quickly in Afghanistan:

The loss of the major city of Kunduz to the Taliban is a stunning reversal for the Afghan government, deepening worries about the ability of its security forces to take the fight to the Islamic militants. …

It’s the biggest Taliban victory since 2001. …

The loss of Kunduz, even if the Afghan government manages to take it back soon, is an ominous sign. It’s Afghanistan’s fifth largest city and the capital of the province of the same name.

“This is the biggest town they’ve been able to take since 2001,” said Nic Robertson, CNN’s international diplomatic editor. “This is a significant target and prize for the Taliban.” …

The Taliban’s intent to try to take Kunduz was well flagged, and yet Afghan forces were unable to hold the city despite outnumbering the attackers. “Since about April this year, the Taliban increased their strength in the countryside to the north of Kunduz and have essentially had it in their sights since then,” Robertson said.

The militant group hasn’t had the easiest year. ISIS has been reported to be eating into its recruitment efforts in Afghanistan, and internal divisions in the Taliban were laid bare after the admission that longtime leader Mullah Omar had died more than two years ago.

But despite initial questions over whether the group would fall apart, new leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour appears to have overcome the bumpy start and can now point to big blow against the Afghan government in Kunduz.

Mr. Obama does not get animated about very much, but conversations on leaving Afghanistan as soon as possible always seemed to perk him up. The White House was forced to delay its plan to have roughly 5,500 troops in country by the end of 2015 at the behest of Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, but he still insisted the U.S. basically reach “embassy center presence” by the end of his term in office. How convenient.

Do you notice a trend with the president when it comes to Iraq, Guantanamo Bay Detention Center, and Afghanistan? He rushes to meet political objectives despite overwhelming evidence that keeping promises made on the campaign trail prior to his 2008 election will create national security nightmares in the long run.

A leader — a true leader — is willing to make decisions that will gut him politically if the alternative is a substantially more dangerous world. Look at Yemen, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan and then compare where they are today with where they were in 2008. There is no way to objectively look at those countries — and the millions of refugees fleeing the Middle East and northern Africa — and conclude the Obama administration’s foreign policy has been a success.

President Obama expresses frustration March 24, 2015 that his attempts to run from Afghanistan with a come-what-may attitude are being thwarted by harsh reality. (Image: CNN screenshot)
President Obama expresses frustration March 24, 2015 that his attempts to run from Afghanistan with a come-what-may attitude are being thwarted by harsh reality. (Image: CNN screenshot)
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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

4 comments

  1. A great leader would look at the situation in the middle east and then look at his campaign promises and issue a simple statement:

    “The issues we have in that region are vastly more complicated than I appreciated. My aim for my term of office is to leave with us being in the best position possible so that the next guy can work towards our exit”

    Problem is when you win a noble peace prize on other people’s achievements it makes you not want to be in that positus yourself.

    1. President Obama demonized Bush leading up to his 2008 election, and then when he was the one getting the national security briefings he realized, “Uh-oh. I guess the world is a lot scarier than I thought.”

      And yet…he offers no acknowledgement that the underlying premise of so many of his arguments (i.e., the world would all get along if the U.S. just crawled into a shell) was wrong.

  2. What’s wrong with letting the Middle East blow itself up? The world will be a lot less noisier for one thing, and do we really need anything from there that we can’t get from someplace else?

    1. You’re right, Mr. Anonymous. What could go wrong if terrorists groups got their hands on Syria’s chemical and biological weapons, or Pakistan’s nukes? What could go wrong if those same terrorist groups had lawless safe havens from which to train and strengthen their networks with modern weapons and technology?

      Next time you have a thought like that, try turning it over in your mind a little more before taking it out of the oven. I think you took this one out a little too soon.

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