This ought to come as no surprise to anyone who has been paying attention, but there is no way that we are ready to hand off responsibilities to the Afghan government, and the Afghan security forces in less than a year’s time, the Obama Administration’s desires to the contrary notwithstanding. Anthony Cordesman’s piece on this issue practically screams out–apologies to Glenn Reynolds–”slower, please!”. Unfortunately, there is no indication that the Administration is listening. To be sure, the Administration tells us that we will not complete a withdrawal by July of next year, only start one, and it periodically mumbles something about how conditions on the ground will help determine things. But one is not entirely sure that the Administration won’t just try to skedaddle out of Afghanistan as fast as is humanly possible; if only to better President Obama’s chances of securing his base in advance of his re-election effort in 2012.
Let there be no doubt; preventing the Taliban from re-taking power and perhaps allowing al Qaeda to once again use Afghanistan as a base of operations is in the national security interests of the United States. We are now putting ourselves in a position where those national security interests may not be met. If that happens, we will have a lot to vote on come 2012, including the question of why the Obama Administration allowed us to lose Afghanistan.