In an interview with the Military Times, Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Davis, a veteran of two tours of duty in Afghanistan, said he believes that U.S. leaders should come clean about the “absence of success on virtually every level” in Afghanistan, the central battlefield of America’s global war against terrorists.
After traveling 9,000 miles and interviewing 250 soldiers during a year-long tour of Afghanistan representing the U.S. Army’s Rapid Equipping Force, Davis found the situation in Afghanistan discouraging. “What I saw,” he wrote in a piece about his trip, “bore no resemblance to rosy official statements by U.S. military leaders about conditions on the ground.” Things there were not improving, the local government and military forces of Afghanistan were incapable of standing on their own, and they did not control much of the territory beyond the bases.
If this is indeed the case, why is the Administration rushing to leave Afghanistan before the mission is accomplished and the Afghans are able to defend themselves? More importantly, as Heritage Vice President Kim Holmes recently queried, what if Afghanistan becomes a safe haven for terrorists again?
Terrorist sanctuaries across the globe are on the rise, particularly in Somalia, Yemen, and Nigeria. In Pakistan, the tribal areas that have been used to stage attacks on U.S. forces in Afghanistan could become entrenched, as could parts of Libya that the interim government is still unable to control. Iran, the world’s foremost sponsor of terrorism, is a wild card: It supports terrorist groups like Hezbollah in Lebanon and others in Gaza, Iraq, and elsewhere. It is currently seeking to influence Mexican drug cartels operating along our southern border.
It is way too early for the Administration to conclude that America has won the war against terrorists. To mistakenly confine the threat to al-Qaeda is dangerous. America needs a comprehensive strategy to respond to the ever-evolving threat of terrorism.
Corey Gustafson is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please visit: http://www.heritage.org/about/departments/ylp.cfm