Joseph Miller is the pen name for a ranking Department of Defense official with a background in U.S. special operations and combat experience in Iraq and Afghanistan. He has worked in strategic planning.
Over the weekend, the legacy media was happy to give President Barack Obama a boost by writing puff pieces about his trip to Afghanistan on a day so close to one of the nation’s most solemn holidays. But the Obama Doctrine outlined then and in the two days since isn’t hope and change. Not only is it another broken campaign promise, it’s an international show of an American leader irresponsibly passing responsibility for essential “hard choices” onto the next U.S. president — just like he has done with Iran, North Korea, and the rest.
The trip was his first to Afghanistan since 2012 and was billed as a chance to thank the troops for their service to the nation. It was a much needed moment of relief for a commander in chief who has been beaten up in recent months for failing to craft or execute a discernible foreign policy.
The press took photos of Obama glad handing and smiling with members of the armed forces at Bagram Air Field. They also reported on the speech outlining his plan to keep U.S. forces in Afghanistan beyond 2014.
“America’s war in Afghanistan will come to a responsible end,” he declared. The optics were fantastic and, as usual, the president’s delivery was superb. However, what the press failed to pick up on were some of the subtleties of the trip itself which, when combined with elements of the president’s speech, were much more telling of his failed Afghanistan policy.
After twelve and a half years at war, the security situation is still so bad in Afghanistan that the president was forced to arrive unannounced and land under the cover of darkness. By all accounts, even Afghan President Hamid Karzai wasn’t made aware of Obama’s impending visit to his country until shortly before he arrived — and even then, Karzai refused to meet with him. What’s more, the president didn’t even stay for a full day or travel to Kabul, never leaving Bagram Air Field.
Despite this, the president spoke of transitioning responsibility for security over to Afghan forces. How exactly Obama expects to responsibly transition security to the Afghans while the situation is so bad that he has to arrive in the dark and can’t even get off of Bagram Air Base is unknown at this point.
At this time, the Taliban maintain control of large swaths of the country, and many in the national security apparatus expect the Taliban to retake control of Afghanistan at some point after U.S. forces withdraw. Afghanistan lacks the infrastructure and the financial resources required to keep the country stable under the current government — or even to pay its soldiers. Without the presence of foreign military forces, the Afghan government is likely to crumble and the country will then descend back into civil war. If it does, all of our security gains in Afghanistan will be lost — and all of the blood and treasure spent will be for naught.