Sun, Feb. 16

Letter: Bush legacy is a false sense of feeling safe


The Pentagon plans to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to reinforce the 62,000 combined American and NATO-forces currently there because of a resurging Taliban. If we can't stop the Taliban and stabilize Afghanistan, then Afghanistan can easily become a millstone for Obama. Pundits, particularly conservatives, have already given hints how Afghanistan might turn out to be Obama's Vietnam.

The public's memory is frequently short, but we should try not to forget that the current state of affairs in Afghanistan is the responsibility of the Bush Administration. It was the Bush Administration that started a war in Iraq before the war in Afghanistan was completed. Vital resources - troops and funding - were diverted to Iraq instead of the fight against Al Queda and the Taliban. After eight years in Afghanistan, the government of Afghanistan is unable to go it alone, the Taliban's presence is on the increase, and Pakistan is unable to clear out the terrorists from where it borders Afghanistan. The stability of Pakistan itself is questionable. As our presence in Afghanistan lengthens, we are increasingly viewed with suspicion as occupiers.

We can only hope that the additional troops will do the job, but given the state of affairs there this is not promising. The outgoing administration has left few options for Obama's team. If we don't succeed in Afghanistan, then it has the potential of becoming a quagmire for us, and if we leave Afghanistan as it is now or worse, then the Taliban and Al Queda and other terrorist groups will be an increasing threat to the region and to us.

Bush may have made us seem safer, but he and his administration have much to answer for by its failure to follow through in Afghanistan before committing us to Iraq. This is indefensible (though I'm sure there will be quite a few who will find ways to defend the war policies of the Bush White House). In actuality Bush has not left us safer but only given us a false sense of being safe.

Joe Stack


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