Foreign Policy / Middle East / Politics

An ‘Endgame’ to the Ongoing Afghanistan Conflict

On May 27th, 2014, President Barack Obama announced a formal “endgame” to the thirteen-year war in Afghanistan.  He declared  there will be less than 10,000 troops by the end of 2014, and a near complete withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of Obama’s presidency in 2016.

Shortly after the President’s announcement on Tuesday, Republican representatives were quick to respond to the President’s latest foreign policy strategy. In a joint statement from John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsay Graham (R-SC), and Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) concluded, “This is a short-sighted decision that will make it harder to end the war in Afghanistan responsibly.” The Republican officials furthered their critique of Obama’s “endgame” by stating, “his decision on Afghanistan will fuel the growing perception worldwide that America is unreliable, distracted, and unwilling to lead.” The Republican representatives are right in saying that this announcement will set a new precedent for America’s foreign policy objectives.

Why is there a need to announce a formal ending to a conflict that doesn’t have a foreseeable conclusion? Californian, Republican representative Buck McKeon picked up on this and went on to say, “holding this mission to an arbitrary egg-timer doesn’t make a lick of sense strategically.”

Nearly thirteen years have elapsed, 2300 individuals have been killed, and Afghanistan is arguably a failed state. Despite those facts, Obama said, “We have now been in Afghanistan longer than many Americans expected, now we’re finishing the job we’ve started.” How are we finishing the job we started by pulling out and cutting our losses? There is no way to know if the military will achieve its goals by the date the President has just set. It’s clear that this was a political, not strategic, move of the Obama Administration.

The President and his administration have failed to understand and learn from the other failures in our reason foreign policy history. In more specific terms, our exit out of the Iraq war was satisfactory to say the least, and our Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan in 2008 was a complete, utter failure. By leaving this failed state prematurely, the Obama Administration is continuing a misguided, foreign policy agenda that several Americans will not stand for.

Speaker of the House John Boehner spoke out against Obama and his endgame for Afghanistan. In response to Obama’s recent announcement, Boehner concluded, “It has been my long-standing position that input from our commanders about the conditions on the ground should dictate troop decisions, and not an arbitrary number from Washington,” highlighting his irritation with the Obama Administration’s latest foreign policy move.

Before Obama planned this final withdrawal out of Afghanistan, Boehner had a different objective in place. He pushed for a bilateral security agreement with Afghanistan, which would further the ongoing mission in this failed state. His plan would push for greater success in Afghanistan, instead of an early exit to cut our losses for our own benefit. This formal “endgame” will hurt credibility of Obama’s foreign policy during his presidency, as well as leave the state of Afghanistan vulnerable and unpredictable.