I am convinced that our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is the epicenter of violent extremism practiced by al Qaeda. 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. This is no idle danger; no hypothetical threat. In the last few months alone, we have apprehended extremists within our borders who were sent here from the border region of Afghanistan and Pakistan to commit new acts of terror. And this danger will only grow if the region slides backwards, and al Qaeda can operate with impunity. We must keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and to do that, we must increase the stability and capacity of our partners in the region.He repeated the sentiment just weeks ago during his Oval Office speech on the Iraq drawdown:
So I was surprised to see this in today's Morning Defense:
And no challenge is more essential to our security than our fight against al Qaeda.
Americans across the political spectrum supported the use of force against those who attacked us on 9/11. Now, as we approach our 10th year of combat in Afghanistan, there are those who are understandably asking tough questions about our mission there. But we must never lose sight of what's at stake. As we speak, al Qaeda continues to plot against us, and its leadership remains anchored in the border regions of Afghanistan and Pakistan. We will disrupt, dismantle and defeat al Qaeda, while preventing Afghanistan from again serving as a base for terrorists.
OVERNIGHT ALERT FROM THE POST –Woodward’s book, due out Monday, describes the administration as “barraged” with terrorist warnings on U.S. soil. But Obama told Woodward: “We can absorb a terrorist attack. We'll do everything we can to prevent it, but even a 9/11, even the biggest attack ever... we absorbed it and we are stronger.”I think we all understand the political realities involved in this, and there's no doubt the president would suffer terrible consequences if he were to be seen admitting that terrorism is a danger we simply have to learn to live with. But when I think about what we can "absorb" and about the president's stated belief that "we are stronger" after having suffered through the consequences of 9/11, it makes me wonder whether we're stronger for the $70B we're spending annually in Afghanistan, or for the thousand-plus U.S. lives that have been lost there, or for the consequences of our involvement there like reduced flexibility in our land forces, physical and psychological strain across the force, and the eroded moral force that accompanies a superpower being seen as a vanquished occupier.
If we could "absorb" another 9/11, then WTF are we doing in Afghanistan? (For whatever it's worth, I'm not the only one wondering.)