Our nation's military deserve a huge amount of thanks for all they have done to keep us safe over the last 10 years, and we should all celebrate that we have eliminated the key Al Qaeda threat. However, we must take advantage of this opportunity and now:
- Wrap up operations, including taking advantage of the confusion that will likely ensue within the Al Qaeda organization
- Bring our troops home
The second step is critical. We have been in Afghanistan for almost 10 full years. Children have grown up in that environment, and if we stay much longer, we will be increasingly perceived as occupiers of the country. We must demonstrate that we are not intending to permanently occupy their country; we have achieved our stated objective and now is the time to leave.
This is not to say that I think everything will be peaceful from this point forward. I am very concerned that additional attacks will take place - but that is why we need to demonstrate that we are willing to leave now that we have achieved our stated goal. If they attack us after we leave (or even while we are clearly attempting to leave) the American public sentiment will be on our side and we will be able to overcome any such attack. However, if we do not quickly begin to withdraw, we will open ourselves up for another attack from which there is no good response. If we return the attack, we will still be seen as occupiers and will likely lose much American support; if we only begin to pull out after an attack, we risk being seen as weak and thereby invite additional attacks. The best approach is to immediately begin efforts to withdraw our troops and pray for their safety - while clearly stating that we are not afraid to return in a much more aggressive way if we are attacked again.