A group of retired generals and diplomats recently sent an open letter to President Obama urging him to augment U.S. forces in Afghanistan and extend U.S. involvement there. Writing for The National Interest, Daniel Davis argues that doing so would be a flawed strategy, especially since Americans have not become any safer as a result of Operation Enduring Freedom and the Iraq War.
Past surges of troops in Afghanistan and Iraq did not prove successful. Instead, according to Davis, the “number of terror organizations and terror threats to America has risen considerably over the past fifteen years.” Davis also points out that in Afghanistan more territory is now in the hands of terrorists than before the surge. Meanwhile, the United States gave the Iraqi government the opportunity to create oppressive policies towards Sunnis, which played a role in the emergence of ISIS.
Davis asserts that the authors of the letter twist the facts by invoking fear and the painful memories of 9/11. The letter-writers argue that the terrorists responsible for 9/11 depended on Afghanistan’s unique location to carry out their plot, and they could do so again if the United States does not succeed in Afghanistan.
Davis counters that the 9/11 plot need not have been concocted in Afghanistan. In fact, Davis maintains that the U.S. strategies executed there have been making the United States less secure by “keeping the Middle East aflame.” Instead of being swayed by fear, Davis concludes that President Obama and the people of the United States should appraise the past nearly two decades of warfare in the Middle East with a more critical eye and ask whether “more of the same” is a strategy that will bring peace and prosperity to either the Middle East or Americans back home.