May 9th, 2011
10:41 AM ET

Opinion: Is U.S. role in Afghan war obsolete?

Editor's note: David Frum writes a weekly column for CNN.com. A special assistant to President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2002, he is the author of six books, including "Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again," and is the editor of FrumForum.

The killing of Osama bin Laden raises many haunting questions. Here's the most important:

Has our mission in Afghanistan become obsolete?

To think through that question, start with a prior question: Why did we remain in Afghanistan after the overthrow of the Taliban?

The usual answer to that question is: To prevent Afghanistan from re-emerging as a terrorist safe haven.

There have always been a lot of problems with that answer. (For example: Does it really take 100,000 U.S. troops, plus allies, to prevent a country from becoming a terrorist safe haven? We're doing a pretty good job in Yemen with a radically smaller presence.)

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soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. pamiri

    The purpose that usa came to Afghanistan it is not achieved yet, which is finishing of all extremists Taliban Alqaeda and their supporters in both country AFG_PAK

    May 17, 2011 at 4:47 am | Report abuse |
  2. Napoli

    I disagree with the "prior" question and it's answer. The answer is something different, to destroy AQ and suppress the Taliban. Now, shall we ask the first question again?

    May 10, 2011 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  3. salerno

    AlQaeda goal is to clean islamic land from the americans and the western countries, in order to free the people.

    May 10, 2011 at 4:42 pm | Report abuse |
    • Napoli

      The trouble is, "their land" includes the world. The perception is more like, AQ's goal is to cleanse the world of christianity. AQ has no ground to stand on. They speak for or represent no one but themselves. Sure, others may occasionally agree but the point is the same.

      It would be akin to backers of Green Energy organizations to openly attack Saudi Arabia. Would the Saudis have a right to respond? Certainly. Would they hunt these people across boarders? If they could get away with it or if they were harbored by governments when they refuse to assist. Criminals are criminals and need to come to justice. It matters not how or why they became criminals or if you agree with their message. You can sympathize but you cannot assist.

      Any notion AQ is somehow justified responding to pressure to preserve their "freedom" is insane. In what country is their "freedom" threatened? Let them return to their respective countries and react accordingly. That is how things are done in today's world. Otherwise, you are out of control and shall be punished, accordingly. That is just a simple fact of being civilized. Any notion these rules do not apply (or are acting in the name of some God) is equally insane.

      May 10, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Napoli

      It is not for AQ to decide what foreigners are present in what countries. That is for the respective governments to decide. AQ is therefore attempting to stripe sovereignty from these governments, and guess what? Is niether justified nor correct in their methods nor goals. They do not speak for the "people".

      May 10, 2011 at 7:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      Islamic countries have no governments. They are US puppetts. The Islamic lands are S. Arabia, Iraq, Egypt, end so on. Not the entire world. Some include some debatable lands like Andalusia, but it is wrong.

      May 10, 2011 at 8:49 pm | Report abuse |
      • Napoli

        So you excluded Iran from the list and how that country and its people did successfully expel the US from it's territory. You see, S, that is how things should be done as much as the US may disagree with that incedent. Not using the world as your battle ground.

        May 10, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        Right, Iran expelled the americans and the US let it alone. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Ehypt are more important for the USA and the west for geo political, strategical , and economical reasons.

        May 11, 2011 at 9:30 am | Report abuse |
      • Napoli

        And so we see, it is possible to not be friends with the US without resorting to international terrorism. I respect Iran and N. Korea for their beliefs and methods. Even Libya, for standing up to the US and for what theie in. It is possible and to do it in an appropriate manner. The trouble is AQ speaks for no one and with methods that are certainly uncivilized. Whether the US and coalition should or should not be in countries like Pick-a-stan is not the issue. They are there in response to war-lke attacks by people without scruples who were met with equal violence. Libya, as an example, has met it's match. Governments are "for the people". So, how can a government kill it's people when they stand up to speak their mind, to be heard by their government, only to be killed for what they are trying to say? The government who does this is not for it's people but rather for itself. You cannot keep everyone happy all the time and therefore must learn how to disagree.

        May 11, 2011 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        It is perfectly normal that a government kill his people when they are rebelling. Milosevic had the right to fight insurgents in HIS country, and Ghaddafi is doing the same. What is criiminal and terroristic is when USA kill ppeople in other countries,
        (sometimes US fight the governments and sometimes the rebels to meet his agenda)

        May 11, 2011 at 3:19 pm | Report abuse |
    • Napoli

      Uprisings in many countries will express their people's true feelings. If AQ has the support then they should free their people in Saudi Arabia using the previous as examples. But....who said (besides you) this is the true desire of the people? I guess something must not be right or AQ would do so. No?

      May 10, 2011 at 10:12 pm | Report abuse |
  4. pamiri

    I have a request for all that, when we are coming to have our say and express the facts that is taking place or occur around us and in atmosphere where we are living, first we are human being and secondly we could be believe on one or the other religions and or no religion does not matter, but its very important when we have knowledge about something from the ground it would be better if we state that without any discriminations and biases, the fact is fact no one can changed that by propaganda longer, in the end the fact is the winner always.

    God says, say the truth even it is against you and the logic says this too, but unfortunately some persons just ignoring the truth and making stories by their own interfering by biases and discriminations in them. I do not agree with this sort of actions at all.

    From Kabul

    May 10, 2011 at 1:13 am | Report abuse |
  5. Riza Afghan

    USA should cut all AID and kick all terrorists from Afghanistan (seems no terrorist left in Afghanistan anymore, all are living in Pakistan for the past 7 years now ) then Pakistan will not have any $ and that's the end of Terrorists.

    Terrorists are only running for $, if no $ from USA and no $ from Afghan Drug then they are dead😀

    CUT/STOP THE F00KING AID TO STUPID TERRORIST COUNTRY PAKISTAN RIGHT NOW IF YOU WANT TO PUT AN END TO THE PAKISTANI TERRORISTS!!!

    AFGHANISTAN NEVER BEEN A TERRORIST STATE, PAKISTAN WAS/IS A TERRORIST STATE FROM THE BEGINNING !!!

    May 9, 2011 at 5:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Dan from Detroit, MI

    The cold hard fact is that the U.S. never had a legitimate role to play in Afghanistan in the first place. Bush used 9/11 simply as a pretext to go there in order to exploit that country's mineral resources. We do have a moral obligation to vacate that country asap!

    May 9, 2011 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • NucularInternets

      What minerals do they have that will be useful to us?

      May 9, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
    • .

      The country has extensive deposits of barite, chromite, coal, copper, gold, iron ore, lead, natural gas, petroleum, precious and semiprecious stones, salt, sulfur, talc, and zinc. Precious and semiprecious stones include high-quality emerald, lapis lazuli, red garnet and ruby.

      May 9, 2011 at 8:37 pm | Report abuse |
  7. pamiri

    I am emailing you from Kabul, but the main concern of mine is how still the USA is paying for Pakistan for what reason and purpose, if there is something behind the wall and we do not about that, that could be other case, but as long as all people of the world know , Pakistan is the save heaven for terrorists and most of high officials of Pakistan is involved in terrorist group Alqaeda and Taliban, and there is also exist other terrorist groups, Kabul and he was saying that there is no Alqaeda in Pakistan , it is just the thinking of Afghans not more than that, and Karzai also was pointing his head as positive singe, but it was the god is magic and the USA is brave action that disclosed the fact last week by killing of wild Alaeda leader in Pakistan Abbotabad, where is the military base, and its is prove for that, there is no different between Alqaeda and ISI Taliban, they are the same wild dogs ,

    May 9, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Report abuse |
    • salerno

      USA pay Pakistan to fight AlQaeda, as AQ is an US creation, and Pakistan is a victim of US exported terrorism.

      May 9, 2011 at 4:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • .

        Where in hell did you come up with the idiotic idea that AQ is a US creation???????

        That has to be one of the most stupid ideas ever. You think you have CREDIBILITY? Guess again, twit.

        May 9, 2011 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        It is a well known fact that USA paid AlQaeda and Bin Laden to fight the Soviets. AQ had no birth in Pakistan neither in Afghanistan. Talinbm are wahabe trained by the USA (thorugh Bin Laden) and Saudi Arabia.

        May 9, 2011 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        e.c. Taliban instead of Talinbm.

        May 9, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Report abuse |
      • p3c3

        Yes salerno, but Pakistan trained the actual millitants.

        May 9, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        No, Pakistan is actually fighting the actual militants using the money of the US government. In the past Pakistan cooperated with US and Saudi Arabia training the Taliban, as they were all allies against the Soviets.

        May 9, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
      • NucularInternets

        I can't even understand what he is saying anymore.

        May 9, 2011 at 5:13 pm | Report abuse |
      • .

        agree, nuclear. psychosis on the march. the downhill spiral steepens.

        May 9, 2011 at 8:35 pm | Report abuse |
      • p3c3`

        Okay, the US had the upper hand in the training of AQ. But alot of the training and weaponry distribution was conducted by ISI. Of course AQ was supported by the US against the Soviets. It was the SOVIETS. But they were two different times. And ISI also played a big role in the US funding of what would be AQ. Bin Laden even had connections with the Pakistani army. Pakistan may not be promoting terrorism. But if ISI or the government is doing so secretly, then US can be blamed as well for their funding of it, which may not be intentional, we really can't determine that. But the invasion and now are two different times. What may have happened then was supported by both US and Pakistan, whereas now... And the training camps are not in the USA (at least not that I know of), so I don't think it's completely fair to blame the US for current terrorism.

        May 9, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
      • .

        p3c3` – Valiant try. Good job.

        You need to know that salmee is a proud deserter and has spoken on these blogs many treasonous things. He is anti American and tries to defame and slander America continuously. He and the other troll Yakee. It's what they do.

        On every thread they hijack reasonable discussion with an automatic contrarian view. If they got whatever it is they want (and believe me that their end goals will not be conducive to free speech and personal freedoms and autonomy) they'd still be chronically malcontent. They are unhappy and want everyone else to be off center, unhappy and as benighted as they are.

        For my part I've backed away from wasting my time on these ugly creatures. Why CNN allows them to pervert this blog is a mystery.

        May 9, 2011 at 8:52 pm | Report abuse |
      • .

        You made my point again, and, might I say, quite brilliantly.

        Now...take YOUR corruption and shove it.

        May 10, 2011 at 9:13 am | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        p3c3 – the only training camp used by the 9/11 attackers were in USA, the american flying schools.

        May 10, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
      • p3c3

        But the west and USA are not AQ's only target. And, I believe that while you could say it like that, the American flight schools did not teach the fliers to ram planes into buildings (hopefully), unless the schools themselves were infiltrated, which I don't think they were. But many of the hijackers were not fliers. Some of them were the muscles of the operation. I know for sure, of one man who was trained in a famous training camp near Kandahar before arriving in the USA to be a part of the hijacking, but that's not the point.

        May 10, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        p3c3- I show you the point: AQ target was not USA neither Europe. They bacome the target when moved war to AQ. The Target was Mubaraq and S. Arabia, after the Soviets: The point about training camps is that Afghanistan training camps were not necessary as the highjackers used knives, and you can learn to use a knife in any country.

        May 12, 2011 at 3:56 am | Report abuse |
      • p3c3

        But nonetheless that man was trained in a training camp in the middle east. When I said that's beside the point, I meant that I was stressing my response to the post from which this discussion is under – imported....

        May 12, 2011 at 4:14 pm | Report abuse |
      • salerno

        It is totally irrelevant that one out of 19 highjackers was trained in Afghanistan, aspecially considering that training was useless, as the most important thing was to learn to fly an US plane.

        May 13, 2011 at 8:28 am | Report abuse |
      • p3c3

        Their ideals were not taught to them in the USA. They all came from the Middle East. And I'm read that they were recruited. I was just trying to say the AQ is not only USA's fault, though it may have its big share.

        May 13, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Report abuse |