“Finally, a Fighting Force” by Michael E. O’Hanlon (TIMES, 5/21/11)

“Helmand Province,” according to this Brookings senior fellow, “has in the past year or so seen remarkable progress,” yet the “region is not completely safe.”

Following that positive prognosis, we get vague statistics to support his assertion of remarkable progress but not completely safe.

O’Hanlon is talking nonsense when he concludes that NATO forces should remain in an area 24 to 30 months after the Taliban have been cleared out.

Meanwhile, the “Department of Defense has identified 1567 American service members who have died as a part of the Afghan war and related operations.” (See box a page A7) What will that figure be after 30 months?

Now is as good a time to begin withdrawing from Rumsfeld’s quagmire as is 30 months hence. Most of the casualties in both Afhanistan and Iraq have been young people who could not find decent jobs or could not afford a college education. High unemployment guarantees easy recruitment for the armed forces.


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