The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

October 2, 2012

Time to get out of Afghanistan


Daily Item

---- — Quick, name the president of Iraq. More than seven years after he took office, few Americans even know who the president of Iraq is. Do you?

Jalal Talabani, a Kurdish politician, has quietly maintained his post even as U.S. leaders determined that they would prefer to have someone else in his position after U.S. forces left the country.

The government in Iraq is still teetering, but the Iraqis are sorting it out themselves, almost a year after U.S. troops withdrew.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is not exactly a household name in the U.S., but he has been a much more higher profile figure than his Iraqi counterpart.

Karzai said in an interview aired Sunday on "60 Minutes" that intelligence sources suggest a number of foreign terrorist organizations, among them Al Quaeda are becoming increasingly active in his country.

Attacks by Afghan soldiers or police -- or insurgents disguised in their uniforms -- have killed 52 American and other NATO troops so far this year.

The U.S. has spent $22 billion in the last three years to train and equip 350,000 Afghan police officers and soldiers in preparation for the withdrawal of U.S. troops. U.S. casualties in Afghanistan have reached 2,000.

That's enough. We need to be out of Afghanistan.

The first 33,000 U.S. troops left in September, leaving 68,000 still in the country. American leaders say the timeline for bringing home the rest of the troops in Afghanistan will not be announced until after the Nov. 6 election. President Obama has consistently cited the end of 2014 as the final exit.

The war has largely been ignored in the presidential election campaign, as both President Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney have recognized that income inequality and the economy are the issue that most resonate with voters.

What a shame.

Sunday night, the American Legion Post in Herndon held a special ceremony featuring a Lewisburg woman whose brother was killed in Afghanistan.

They lit 600 luminaries in honor of the war dead and listened as Jessica Charles described the effort to re-establish a Gold Star program to recognize the sacrifice of families of those killed in war.

We grieve with those who have experience the heart-breaking loss that comes when a soldier makes the ultimate sacrifice. We must now honor those heroes by bringing as many of their brothers and sisters out of harm's way as soon as we can. The Afghan have received sufficient American support to solve their own problems.