US must find quick exit from Afghanistan

Sending another 30,000 troops is no guarantee of victory. It will, however, put more American lives at risk and cost billions of dollars the US can't afford.

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The United States must get out of Afghanistan. This country can no longer afford the cost in dollars -- and lives.

We aren't convinced that President Obama's plan to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan is prudent. Our fear is that even with the escalation of troops, which will bring the U.S. total to 100,000 (plus 40,000 from NATO), the situation in Afghanistan won't be significantly more stable than it is today.

If the U.S. pulls out in 2011, as Obama proposes, early in 2010 or 2015, it is likely the result will be the same. Those who are seeking to undermine the U.S. efforts to bring stability to Afghanistan will hunker down for 18 months or 18 years. When U.S. troops exit there will be an armed conflict to fill that power vacuum.

Yet, ultimately, we would like to see a strong democracy in place in Afghanistan and Iraq. But that must be driven by the people of those nations. The United States can't do it for them.

The war in Afghanistan is by no means a traditional war. It's not about two uniformed armies fighting for control of strategic positions. The U.S. Marines and soldiers fighting in Afghanistan don't know who they are fighting until they are attacked.

It's for that reason some argue that the more troops we send to Afghanistan the worse the situation will be as the increased military presence means more targets. The military occupation of Afghanistan is also said to be breeding resentment and thus creating new terrorists.

Whether that is true or not is difficult to determine from Walla Walla or anywhere else in the United States.

But what is clear is that the United States has spent over $200 billion dollars and lost 800 American lives over the past eight years in the Afghanistan war.

We simply can't afford to continue borrowing billions and billions of dollars. This current economic crisis has taken a huge toll on the nation. In the government's efforts to reverse the economic recession, the U.S. has put itself deeper and deeper in debt.

How much more debt can we tolerate? This nation does not have an endless supply of money to finance this war.

Continuing to put Americans lives at risk is even more troubling.

Putting more troops in Afghanistan is supposed to make the situation in Afghanistan safer. Maybe, maybe not. The U.S. military commanders asked for more troops, a total of 40,000 more, to get the job done.

Given that, there is some doubt -- at least in the minds of military experts -- whether Obama is taking the right course with this build up of force and a projected exit in 2011.

The United States cannot continue to throw money, military might and the lives of our soldiers at problems. It's putting this nation's future in jeopardy.

We must find a way out of Afghanistan (and Iraq) sooner rather than later.

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