Afghanistan: Obama’s Legacy of Failed Foreign Policy
On-the-ground observations from the Middle East
Written by Todd Wilcox, combat veteran, former Green Beret, ex-CIA Case Officer and business leader.
Afghanistan was ours to lose and we have lost.
I am writing this from Kabul, Afghanistan where my company provides critical logistics support to the United States military. My role in running an American logistics company in Afghanistan over the last five years gives me a unique perspective on the deteriorating situation in the Middle East and the absolute failure of our country’s policies in the region.
The current official U.S. military troop strength in Afghanistan is 9,800 and there are plans to draw down even further. President Barack Obama’s transition from Operation Enduring Freedom to Operation Resolute Support has forced a “hunker down” mentality for the men and women who serve in this war zone. U.S. Embassy Kabul and military Resolute Support personnel are not allowed to leave the embassy or compound because the Taliban now control more than 60% of the country. Risk aversion permeates the military decision making process and limits operational capabilities.
For those who’ve served in Afghanistan since the invasion in 2001, it is frustrating and disheartening that the Taliban have been allowed to retake the majority of the country. They now fully control the provinces of Helmet, Kunduz and Nuristan and are exerting pressure on the Afghan security forces in and around Jalalabad and the border crossing at Torkum. The Serobi Valley between Kabul and Jalalabad, once dotted with U.S. Special Forces forward operating bases, is now under Taliban control. ISIS is a growing threat in the country and there are clear indications that the Taliban and ISIS are collaborating.
Where Afghanistan was once seen as a center of hope for changing tides in the Middle East, Obama’s policies have instead allowed our worst fears to flourish in the region: The enemy of my enemy is my friend is bringing together the two greatest forces of terror against the United States, the Taliban and ISIS.
In the 15 years of war that have followed the attacks on September 11, 2001, America is less safe, has less influence on the global stage and there are far more areas of crisis and failed nations around the world:
- Tunisia was ground zero of the Arab Spring and that country is now on the verge of collapse just as the roots of democracy were starting to take hold.
- Libya, South Sudan and Yemen are failed states.
- Russia and Turkey (a NATO ally) have just announced a joint operating framework in Syria against ISIS that does not include the United States.
- The Kurds in Northern Iraq are begging for more support in their fight against ISIS, and though ISIS is losing ground tactically in Iraq and Syria they are effectively projecting power beyond their borders.
- We have turned our backs on the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in their proxy war against Iran which is supporting the Houthis.
- Iran is on a path toward becoming a nuclear power.
- There are growing and dangerous tensions between Pakistan and India, both are nuclear powers.
- China has declared their own Monroe Doctrine in the South China Sea threatening the balance of power in the Pacific.
- North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests in the last two years.
The world is certainly a more dangerous place today than it was before President Obama set out to weaken our nation’s foreign policy nearly eight years ago. Despite his attempt to whitewash his foreign policy legacy this week at the UN General Assembly, his administration will go down in history as having the worst national security strategy since President Jimmy Carter. President Obama has been wrong on Afghanistan, wrong on the Taliban and wrong on ISIS. The President is right about one thing though – elections matter and you get what you vote for.