Guest Editorial: Obama’s decision is true act of leadership

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by Shannon Williams

President Barack Obama’s strategy for the war in Afghanistan is one that was received with mixed reaction.

Supporters say his plan to increase U.S. troops as well as set an end date is a move in the right direction, while opponents feel that the war is senseless—be it in Iraq or Afghanistan.

While I’m against war (particularly the war in Iraq), I understand the United States’ global role and our need to have a presence in Afghanistan.

There are some Democrats who are livid at Obama’s decision—they can’t seem to grasp the fact that Obama is continuing a war that George W. Bush started. But political correspondent Ed Rollins said it best when he stated, “We need to remember that this is not Obama’s war, or Bush’s war. This is America’s war.”

To evacuate troops immediately would prove a disaster on a multitude of levels. As with past decisions during his presidency thus far, Obama has done the best he could with what he has to deal with.

Considering a major premise of Obama’s presidential campaign was anti-war and that some members of his own party disagree with his plan are testaments of his leadership ability. Whether you’re president of the United States, a top executive at a Fortune 500 company, or even a manager of a fast food restaurant, at some point in your career, you’ll probably have to make a decision that’s unpopular, but overall best for the people you represent. That’s what Obama did when he announced last week that the U.S. will send 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan within the next seven months and that troop withdrawal will begin in July 2011.

Afghanistan is in complete disarray. What many people may not realize (or possibly forgot) is that Afghanistan has experienced instability since the 1970s. Mohammad Zahir Shah was respected for his ability to lead the country without bloodshed during his four decades as king, but he was ousted during a 1973 palace coup.

After Zahir Shah, dictators ruled Afghanistan; the Taliban also tried to rule the country; and terrorist group al Qaeda moved in, gained momentum and ultimately maintained control.

If America removes its troops, our country will have major problems relative to capital, security, respect of other countries, and our overall position in the world.

Hopefully by the time our troops are out of Afghanistan, our country will have accomplished the following:

•Adequately trained Afghan troops so that United States’ transfer of responsibility will be a smooth one.

•Developed programs and institutions that benefit Afghanistan’s citizens. The area of agriculture will have an immediate impact on Afghans.

•Diminished the level of influence the Taliban has on the country.

•Eradicated al Qaeda.

•Have a strong, accountable government.

•Implement effective laws.

•Be rid of corruption.

•Meet the needs of the people by providing food, schools, hospitals, infrastructure improvements, etc.

While I support Obama’s overall plan for Afghanistan, I do have concerns regarding the amount of money that this war is costing America. We’ve learned from Iraq how expensive wars can be, so I’m worried about how America will find itself in 2011.

If we become too economically weak, we will be at the mercy of other countries. And if countries such as China, Russia and Iran have the bulk of the money, then they can very easily set more of the rules—rules we might not necessarily agree with, but are forced to abide.

(Reprinted from the Indianapolis Recorder.)

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