CHH Politics: Obama’s leadership key when dealing with Afghanistan war

Kwabena Boateng

“Justice has been done.”

Those words were spoken as President Barack Obama announced the end of a deadly decade-long game of hide and seek. Osama bin Laden was dead.

Just as I’ll never forget where I was when the twin towers fell, I’ll always remember finishing a history paper at Helms during Obama’s message. It was the most talked about of the president’s achievements in the War in Afghanistan. 

Looking at the goals of the war, Obama has quietly improved what seemed like a no-win situation.  

In declaring war 11 years ago, President George W. Bush stated that, “Our war on terror begins with al-Qaeda.” As ABC News’ Jake Tapper noted, since taking office, Obama has led a ruthless campaign against al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups—erasing several names from the FBI’s Most Wanted Terrorists list.

Crippling al-Qaeda wasn’t the only goal of the Afghanistan War. 

Helping Afghans rebuild a working government was another. This has been even more difficult than killing bin Laden. But Obama has built on what others began in Afghanistan by returning funding and soldiers that had been diverted to Iraq.  

Copying a successful tactic from the Iraq War, he added 30,000 soldiers to secure the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan. Before you accuse the president of wanting to extend an already long war, he has set 2014 as the exit year for most American combat troops, with a few soldiers remaining to train the Afghan military. The United Nations reports increased violence since the surge. However, wouldn’t you expect more violence when more troops are placed in areas of heavy fighting?

Obama’s handling of the Afghanistan War hasn’t been perfect. 

He has ordered strikes against terrorists, including bin Laden, in Pakistan, Afghanistan’s neighbor — but it isn’t clear whether the Pakistanis, an ally, gave permission for these operations. 

Some view this as the president abusing his powers. According to retired Admiral Mike Mullen, Pakistan provides “support and protection” to these terrorists operating in Afghanistan. Based on that I understand Obama’s “abuse” of power. It is just a display of the character and decision-making needed to manage a difficult situation.