Oliver North
CAMP EGGERS, Afghanistan -- Here on this NATO base -- named in honor of Daniel W. Eggers, a U.S. Army special forces captain killed near Kandahar on May 29, 2004 -- President Barack Obama's decision to withdraw 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year is getting mixed reviews. Reactions from scores of U.S. and NATO personnel and Afghan soldiers and police officers with whom my Fox News' "War Stories" team has spoken run the gamut from "It's a deeper, faster cut than I expected" to "I guess we all knew this day was coming." However, there is one opinion that is nearly universal: "We'd better not lose this war."

Obama says we won't. He insists that we can safely "remove 10,000 of our troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year" and "bring home a total of 33,000 troops by next summer," because "in Afghanistan, the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance." He describes his date-driven withdrawal plan as a way to bring the war here "to a responsible end."

That's far from certain. Everyone here -- U.S. and NATO forces, Afghan allies and our enemies -- knows that the schedule for bringing our troops home next summer was set by the timing of a presidential election, not by the situation on the ground. Obama says the surge here has "inflicted serious losses on the Taliban and taken a number of its strongholds." That is certainly true. But he has now confirmed a date certain for withdrawing the very combat power that made it possible to "reverse the Taliban's momentum." Worse, it eliminates any incentive for the Taliban to participate honestly in what he calls a "political solution" and "initiatives that reconcile the Afghan people." Unfortunately, these aren't the only logical disconnects in the course of action the president has chosen.

Obama claims that we will do what we must to "strengthen the Afghan government and security forces." He also says, "Over the last decade, we have spent $1 trillion on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times." Yet he wants to spend more on "innovation" and to "rebuild our infrastructure and find new and clean sources of energy." And he pointedly adds, "America, it is a time to focus on nation building here at home." Of course, all this must be done "while living within our means."

To some, this sounds like hollow campaign rhetoric. It's not. On June 22, the commander in chief made clear that he is determined to not only withdraw our forces from Afghanistan but also dramatically reduce the role of our military as an instrument of national power.


Oliver North

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.