He says he has "made it clear," but he hasn't. Ever since he announced the "surge" in Afghanistan a year ago, he has been talking about commencing the withdrawal of U.S. troops next July. Now he says we will "begin the transition to Afghan responsibility next summer." Does that mean we're going to stay long enough to finish the job -- to actually win in Afghanistan? No one seems to know.
While Obama was enjoying state dinners across Asia, Sens. John McCain, Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham and Kirsten Gillibrand were in Afghanistan for a firsthand look at what's happening on the ground. After meetings in Kabul with Gen. David Petraeus and Afghan President Hamid Karzai, McCain told reporters: "It was wrong to set the date of July" for withdrawing U.S. troops. "It sent out the wrong message, and it created a problem."
The former prisoner of war is right -- but he understates the case. The original Obama promise to start bringing American troops home from the shadows of the Hindu Kush -- a pledge made to placate the anti-military base of his party -- created a whole host of new problems. It told the Taliban they can wait us out. It told the Iranians and elements in Pakistan to increase efforts to control the outcome. It told our allies to start packing their bags for home. And it told Karzai and every corrupt government official in Afghanistan to steal as much as they can while the gringos still are writing checks.
Perhaps worst of all, Obama's "withdrawal promise" told the American people we aren't there to win -- that the sacrifice of their sons and daughters was futile. That's not how Christine and Terry -- the parents of Marine Lance Cpl. Terry E. Honeycutt Jr. of Waldorf, Md. -- feel, nor should they. Their son died Oct. 27 after being wounded by an improvised explosive device in Helmand province. Anti-military protesters intended to disrupt their son's funeral, until the Patriot Guard Riders were alerted to the protesters' plan. Instead of having to endure a disgusting graveside demonstration, scores of God-fearing veterans will honor a fallen Marine and his grieving family.
Obama owes all who are fighting this war -- especially Gold Star families like the Honeycutts -- a clear and unambiguous declaration that we are in Afghanistan to win. The time for equivocation has long since passed. In the case of his "withdrawal date," he must do some serious backtracking.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.
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