Dan Gilmore / Jan. 18, 2016

Obama Wages Limited Air War in Afghanistan

The Obama administration has set itself up for failure.

The Obama administration has set itself up for failure in Afghanistan by not doing everything in its power to halt the resurgence of the Taliban. Yes, Obama walked back his campaign promise to pull American troops from the country by the time he left office, but Obama ignored the air campaign that, if used effectively, could mean the weakening of the Taliban. According to an op-ed that appeared in The Washington Post co-authored by former General David Petraeus, the recent takeover of a northern Afghan city by the Taliban could have been discouraged if the U.S. could lob munitions into massed Taliban fighters. “At present, U.S. and NATO airpower in Afghanistan is used only to attack validated al-Qaeda targets, to counter specific individuals or groups who have attacked coalition forces previously and to respond directly to attacks on coalition forces,” wrote Petraeus and Michael O'Hanlon. “According to leaders on the ground, U.S. and NATO forces are otherwise not allowed to attack Taliban targets. … [S]ome administration lawyers harbor concerns that the authorization for the use of military force approved soon after 9/11 does not extend to justify the continued use of force against the Taliban.” If Obama was the leader he wants us to think he is, he’d either, first, determine if the existing Authorization for Use of Military Force allows him to launch a stronger air campaign in Afghanistan, as a way to help the Afghanistan government, or he would ask Congress for that power to halt the growth of al-Qaida, which flourished under Taliban rule.

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