A permanent American presence in Afghanistan. We still have time to do the right thing.

Author:Garner, Godfrey L.

The United States is poised to commit another egregious error in Afghanistan which will surely, further sully our steadily diminishing status as a world leader. Continuing down this road will result in a total eradication of the dwindling trust other countries have in America as a nation to which they can turn in times of need.

The real harm however will be one that Americans can sit in their living room recliners and read about and as such, easily ignore. As occurred following our disgraceful withdrawal from Vietnam, thousands if not millions of Afghans, who pledged loyalty to America and to America's allies, will be slaughtered by a vengeful Taliban.

America's recognition of the Taliban as a legitimate political power in Afghanistan will encourage this post-American, slaughter of those who worked with America and coalition forces. As in the case of Vietnam we will leave, with the blood of innocence on our hands. The one and only non-negative result of this will be some remotely perceived, political benefit for leaders in Washington who will trumpet their efforts to put an end to Operation Enduring Freedom.

Unfortunately, American actions in Afghanistan from this point forward, unless cooler heads prevail will be predicated on politics alone. "Just get out regardless of the costs", can no doubt be heard echoing through the hallowed halls of the White House. It would seem, any concept of a secure Afghanistan comes in a distant second.

America launched an invasion of Afghanistan for the most noble of reasons. The country, willingly or not had become a safe haven for the Al Qaeda elements most responsible for the slaughter of thousands of innocent Americans.

The debate over Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's relationship with the Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar is far from settled in anyone's eyes. The assumption of a Taliban sanctioned, Afghan safe haven for Al Qaeda beginning in the early 90's will also be debated for the distant future, and will also never be settled.

Many experts believe Mullah Omar never wanted Afghanistan to become a haven for bin Laden. Still others believe Omar and bin Laden had secured their relationship through the marriage of family members. Undisputed, is the fact that a massive, modern multi-room bunker complex was being constructed by bin Laden, for the safety of Omar and his family, right outside Omar's sprawling compound on the edge of the Taliban capitol of Kandahar. The American invasion and subsequent attempt to capture Omar in 2000, caused Omar to flee, and stopped the construction.

Arguments aside, most analysts agree...

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