Americans are not exactly enamored with the war in Afghanistan. And critics say the death of Osama bin Laden — in Pakistan, no less — is a great moment to declare victory and pull our troops out of Afghanistan. Many of President Obama's civilian advisers agree, with one senior official telling The Washington Post, "bin Laden's death is the beginning of the endgame in Afghanistan." But leaving behind a weak, corrupt government that could fall to the Taliban carries its own risks. Should we stay or should we go?
It's time to leave: Afghanistan "began as a just war if ever there was one," says the New Jersey Star-Ledger in an editorial. But 10 years and nearly 2,500 dead coalition troops later, we're spending about $10 billion a month to prop up a corrupt, back-stabbing leader and his inept, plundering cronies. Bin Laden's death ends whatever rationale was left for being there, and it gives Obama a political opening to greatly reduce our footprint. He should take it.
"A decade in Afghanistan is enough"
This isn't just about Afghanistan: "We can't leave Afghanistan at this juncture," says former U.S. National Security Council member Rick Nelson, as quoted by ABC News. Bin Laden's death doesn't kill al Qaeda, and even if we've driven al Qaeda out of Afghanistan, "there is still a significant terrorist threat emanating from western Pakistan." Like it or not, we need to "commit the resources, personnel, and money against this threat until we are certain that it is completely dismantled."
"Osama bin Laden's death spurs debate over troops' future"
We are leaving, unless...: In the public mind, we went into Afghanistan to get bin Laden, says Yochi Dreazen at National Journal. So for most Americans, this is "Mission Accomplished" time. And Obama's incoming national security team probably agrees. That said, "the x-factor in all of this is the possibility of al Qaeda mounting a new attack inside the U.S. as revenge for bin Laden's death." If that happens, and it can be traced to Afghanistan or Pakistan, all bets are off.
"With bin Laden dead, should the war in Afghanistan die with him?"