President Obama linked a “responsible end” to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to America’s economic woes and a desire to turn to domestic policies:
In the wake of an economic crisis… So we simply cannot afford to ignore the price of these wars. Our prosperity provides a foundation for our power… because the nation that I am most interested in building is our own.
In a few short paragraphs, he defined the American battle to change Afghanistan from what it was to what he wished it to be. For a President who accused his predecessor of hubris in foreign policy, President Obama made similarly arrogant assumptions:
* Demanding American-style anti-corruption measures and a strong Western-style government in a country with no history of either.
* Assuming some Afghans would choose Americans over other Afghans. That includes his assuming any choice was permanent.
* Announcing our future departure and assuming any order the U.S. and its allies created would outlast our presence. This includes telling those Afghans inclined to work with us that our presence was temporary and linked to domestic concerns. It also includes telling our enemies the same thing.
* Assuming at least some Taliban would assimilate Western-style “human rights” in order to reap Western-style benefits.
American troops and influence are gone from Iraq, which snuggles ever closer to almost-nuclear Iran. The allied “surge” in Afghanistan is over, leaving in its wake an increasing number of attacks by Afghan soldiers on American soldiers, and a decision by Washington to interrupt the joint operations that were to have ensured American influence on the capabilities and attitudes of Afghan soldiers. Our troops hunker down, waiting for the convoy out, while nuclear Pakistan slips ever closer to chaos.
September’s outburst of violence is the next phase of a transnational war based on religious ideology, and it includes wars waged not only by organizations, but also by Iran. There are those who call outright for violence against the U.S. (al Qaeda, the Taliban and the Salafists). But those who are presently more circumspect in the expectation of political and financial gain (the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah) seek our destruction no less than the others. There are Sunni elements and Shiite elements; separately they despise one another, but together they despise us more.
Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.