With his speech on our war in Afghanistan this week, the president who once preached “change” fully embraced his predecessor’s most dangerous idea: The Bush Doctrine. Describing this doctrine at West Point in 2001, said then President George W. Bush: “If we wait for threats to materialize, we will have waited too long. The war on terror will not be won on the defensive. We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans and confront the worst threats before they emerge.”
At West Point eight years later–President Obama reaffirmed the Bush Doctrine.
Reported ABC News on the day after Obama’s Afghanistan speech: “As he justified sending 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan at a cost of $30 billion a year, President Barack Obama’s description Tuesday of the al Qaeda ‘cancer’ in that country left out one key fact: U.S. intelligence officials have concluded there are only about 100 al Qaeda fighters in the entire country.”
Said Gen.Stanley McChrystal on the eight year anniversary of 9/11: “I do not see indications of a large al-Qaida presence in Afghanistan now.”
Said Obama National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones on CNN in October: “Obviously the good news, at least that America should feel good about in Afghanistan, is that the Al-Qaeda presence is greatly diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on us or our allies…”
Citing Jones’ comments, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asks: “No ability to attack us or our allies? Afghanistan poses no threat to the US, and yet our war there is being doubled and tripled in size. Why? It’s because we think there ‘might be’ a threat from Afghanistan in the future if a safe haven for terrorism reemerges in the future? Is the massive escalation of the war in Afghanistan announced tonight President’s Obama’s own implementation of the preventive war Bush Doctrine?”
The initial invasion of Afghanistan made sense in the wake of 9/11, as the Taliban was believed to be harboring members of Al-Qaeda. But what justification is there for a continued US presence eight years later? Obama warned Americans of Afghanistan “It is from here that we were attacked on 9/11, and it is from here that new attacks are being plotted as I speak.” Is Obama saying it is in our “vital national interest” to build up a presence of nearly 100,000 troops in order to combat or contain less than 100 Al-Qaeda members who ‘might’ be “plotting new attacks?” The president even gets it wrong about the true geographic origin of the September 11 attacks, or as libertarian columnist Lew Rockwell notes “So the US, according to Obama, has to murder more Afghans because 9/11 was plotted in Afghanistan. No it wasn’t; it was plotted in Germany and Florida.”
At the risk of sounding crass: Al-Qaeda is a lot like herpes. Sometimes it acts up and other times it doesn’t, but it is always there, it can be found virtually anywhere, it’s always a menace, and while it can be treated-or inflamed–there’s really no cure. If the United States would finally extract its presence from the Middle East we would no doubt leave behind a festering mess, that we, in part, helped create. But our mere presence is what inflames the situation. We were attacked on 9/11 primarily because of continued US presence in the Middle East, something Osama Bin Laden made perfectly clear. Writes Pat Buchanan: “let us cease propping up unpopular regimes in the Middle East and remove our huge military presence. If we are no longer over there, they have no reason to come over here.” Obama stepping up our efforts in Afghanistan-a war against a questionable and illusive enemy, waged by occupying a country that has consistently rejected occupation, in order to stabilize a nation that is inherently unstable–makes zero sense.
There was no Al-Qaeda in Iraq until Bush implemented his radical doctrine and disastrous war. And as this president foolishly prepares to compound his predecessor’s mistake, Americans have more to fear from Obama’s announced troop escalation than any current threats-real or imagined-that exist in Afghanistan today.