The Common Good

This is Not Enough

With President Obama's announcement on troop withdrawals from Afghanistan expected in a speech tomorrow evening, news stories today are citing a variety of unnamed sources claiming to know what he will say.

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The Los Angeles Times says that 10,000 troops will be withdrawn this year, and the 20,000 additional from the 2009 "surge" by the end of 2012. That would still leave close to 70,000 U.S. forces in Afghanistan going into 2013. The Washington Post adds that while Obama has yet to make a final decision on how many troops to remove in July, the number is likely to fall between 3,000 and 5,000. And the New York Times notes that Obama is still considering options. Fox News late this morning quoted a White House official saying, "The reporting today is all over the map, and we're not playing whack-a-mole with the various scenarios."

So let's be clear. It's time for Obama to stop listening to his generals. Whatever the specific announcement will be, if it falls within the range of the reported options, it's simply not good enough. As I've written before, it is past time for a clear, quick, and responsible exit from Afghanistan -- not one slowly drawn out over years. And we must insist on that. It has become a war of occupation, a massive counter-insurgency, the defense of an utterly corrupt and incompetent government, and an impossible effort at military-led nation-building. Too much money has been spent, and too many lives have been lost. It's time for the war to end, and not be forever prolonged.


Jim Wallis is the author of Rediscovering Values: A Guide for Economic and Moral Recovery, and CEO of Sojourners. He blogs at Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

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