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Don't Prematurely Declare Victory

4:39 PM, Aug 8, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Max Boot, writing in the Los Angeles Times

We have already seen one sign of this premature triumphalism: President Obama ordered 30,000 "surge" troops to come home from Afghanistan by September 2012 against the advice of his military commanders. The battle against the Haqqani network and Taliban — two of the most dangerous terrorist groups in the world — is far from won. It will be much harder to defeat Bin Laden's allies in Afghanistan with the U.S. force reduced by a third before the end of next summer's fighting season.

Defenders of the administration's Al Qaeda-centric approach may argue that only Al Qaeda has shown the will and capacity to strike the American homeland. But other groups are targeting us as well, and sooner or later they may succeed: Faisal Shahzad, who tried to blow up a car bomb in Times Square last year, was trained and funded by the Pakistani Taliban. Also in 2010, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula tried to mail bombs to the U.S. that could have blown up passenger aircraft in midair. All it would take would be one such terrorist success to dispel the current complacency.

History, I fear, may be repeating itself. President George W. Bush and his Defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, appeared to be transfixed by early military successes in Iraq and Afghanistan, and in particular the successes of the Special Operations Command. Remember the hoopla over the "horse soldiers," the Green Berets on horseback who called in the airstrikes that toppled the Taliban in the fall of 2001. Or the hype over Saddam Hussein being pulled out of his spider hole by soldiers of the same Joint Special Operations Command that killed Bin Laden. This created a mind-set of triumphalism embodied in the famous "Mission Accomplished" banner displayed behind Bush when he welcomed the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln home from the Persian Gulf.

Sen. Obama later mocked Bush for prematurely claiming victory. But now President Obama, or at least his aides, may be making the same mistake.

Whole thing here.

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