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Finally, despite what some are saying, the war in Afghanistan was never just about killing Osama Bin Laden. The United States was intent on tracking down and eliminating him, but the war in Afghanistan was not about him. The whole purpose of our 20-year effort in Afghanistan was to prevent a resurgence of al-Qaeda and the likelihood of new attacks on the United States and our allies, and to prevent the Taliban from overthrowing the installed government in Kabul. When the U.S. found bin Laden hiding in Pakistan, he was dealt with, but that was not the end of the war. If Kabul falls, because of the U.S. evacuation, both objectives will have failed.
Over-the-horizon targeting implies that you have eyes on the target, you've got some form of boots on the ground or intelligence development capability that's on the ground, Allen said in a Middle East Institute discussion Sept. 16. We have none, we've basically given it up.
With the U.S. embrace of great power competition, it’s ironic that the U.S. will be ceding the field in Afghanistan to the Chinese who will inevitably flow into the Afghan vacuum left by the U.S. departure. No one should have missed the explicit message sent by the Chinese in the recent warm and celebratory welcome of Taliban leader Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar in Beijing. That welcome appeared in stark contrast to the cold and confrontational reception of the American envoy, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.
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The employment of military force absent a clear policy construct can be a dangerous thing, what the President needs to do is ensure that no one comes away from this with the sense that this was a one-off, single use of military force. He needs to help us all understand what his grand strategy is and what his overarching policy intent is for the employment of force.
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