Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan: "I believe that the loss of stability in Afghanistan brings huge risks that transnational terrorists such as al Qaeda will operate from within Afghanistan again."
Retired Marine John Bernard, following the death in Afghanistan of his son, Marine Lance Corporal Joshua Bernard -- on the U.S. mission there: "We've abandoned Marines (and soldiers by denying them artillery and air support for fear of killing civilians) in this Catch-22 where we're supposed to defend the population, but we can't defend them because we can't engage the enemy that is supposed to be the problem." <p> Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf: "Yes, absolutely, (it would be disastrous if America withdrew from Afghanistan). By this vacillating and lack of commitment to a victory and talking too much about casualties, it shows weakness (of) resolve....Quitting is not an option."
Fordham University law professor Thane Rosenbaum: "Clearly, the mass murder of nearly 3,000 lives on 9/11 is a substantial debt. After eight years in Afghanistan, with the ranks of al Qaeda depleted but metastasizing elsewhere, the Taliban resurgent, and bin Laden still at large, does anyone believe this debt has been repaid? There are actually two ground zeros: one in lower Manhattan, and the other symbolically located in Afghanistan, where the demonic aspirations of al Qaeda were bred and where bin Laden may still be. Whether in Afghanistan, Pakistan, or some other dark and murderous corner of the world, America simply cannot abandon the obligation of evening this score. Justice demands no less."
Pakistan's Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mahmood Qureshi: "(U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan before the Taliban's defeat) will be disastrous. You will lose credibility. Who is going to trust you again?...This public ambivalence and the fact that this is being (so publicly debated in Washington), whether to stay or not stay -- what sort of signal is that sending?...If you go in, why are you going out without getting the job done? Why did you spend so many billions of dollars and lose so many lives? And why did we ally with you?"
Ross Mackenzie lives with his wife and Labrador retriever in the woods west of Richmond, Virginia. They have two grown sons, both Naval officers.
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