One week and one day after U.S. Army Sgt. Robert Bales allegedly went house to house, shooting dead 16 villagers in Afghanistan—mostly women and children in their sleep— Americans are asking why, after the death of Osama bin Laden, we are still fighting in Afghanistan.
The mass murder has infuriated the Afghan government and has shaken the international community, in particular, those who knew the army sergeant well: Bales is a decorated combat veteran described by some who knew him as "happy," a "nice guy," and “"a level-headed, experienced soldier."
The bloody incident also raises questions about the mental stability of wartime veterans and their fitness to continue fighting after a protracted length of duty.
Already, 10,000 U.S. troop have left Afghanistan in the last year, with an additional 23,000 scheduled to withdraw by this summer. The withdrawal will keep a steady pace until the final deadline of 2014, the president said.
But, some say that ending America’s wartime presence is analogous to a divorce: When a final decision is made to leave, then just leave.
However, one thing that most in Washington can agree on is that a strategic withdrawal in a country as politically entangled as is Afghanistan is one of the hardest things to pull off militarily. A quick retreat could mean undoing a lot of the progress made from sacrifices in lost lives and years of negotiation. Additionally, America’s allies overseas in Afghanistan prefer to finish the course, arguing that if America leaves, they will be abandoned militarily.
What do you think? Should President Obama stay the course with his original withdrawal timeline and continue focusing on the economy, or should he transfer security to the Afghanistan government and end America’s military presence immediately?
Take our poll, and tell us what you think in the comments.