George Graham

Why Keep any U.S. Troops in Afghanistan – or Iraq?

Yes, I am thankful for small mercies. I am pleased that President Obama has finally decided to start bringing U.S. troops home from Afghanistan. But I am still puzzled.

Why only 10,000 this year?

Why only 33,000 by the end of next year?

Why wait till 2014 to rescue the others?

What do the pundits mean when they talk about the troops coming home “as soon as possible”?

I should think it would be possible to bring those poor kids home in a few weeks. I’m sure the U.S. military has enough planes and ships and whatever else they need to do that. God knows they get enough of our tax money.

To paraphrase Paul Simon, there must be fifty ways to leave the wretched country. (Slip out the back, Jack. Hop on the bus, Gus.)

What possible goals can be achieved by leaving those kids to slog through the dust and blood for another year, another two years, another three years, or whatever?

In case you haven’t heard, Osama bin Laden is dead.

Does anyone believe Hamid Karzai is going to be more interested in nation building next year – or in 2014 – than he is this year? All the U.S. is doing is giving him more time to rake in more dough.

Look, there is no “nation” to build in Afghanistan.

There are scattered tribes bossed by ferocious warlords. All they do is fight. All they’ve ever done is fight. Why would they stop in 2014 if they won’t stop now?

And now that the president has announced that U.S. troops are leaving, the population will be even more inclined to side with the warlords. They’re not going to risk retribution when the Americans finally go home.

So you can say goodbye to any hope of winning their “hearts and minds.”

While we’re on the subject of troops, what’s keeping the 46,000 U.S. personnel in Iraq?

Why can’t they come home?

The U.S. has done all the nation building it can do over there (with highly questionable results).

It’s time to stop pouring American tax dollars into faraway conflicts  and futile “nation building” abroad.

Charity begins at home.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for