| ||This is not an exit strategy for Afghanistan, it's a surrender strategy|
By Con Coughlin
President Barack Obama believes the Afghan war "as we know it" will be over in two years when combat operations are ended. If he really believes that then he is living in cloud cuckoo land.
We all know that Mr Obama and David Cameron have lost interest in the Afghan campaign. It's too costly, and there are no votes in it. So let's get out at the earliest opportunity and leave the Afghans to clear up their own mess.
Hurrah, I hear you say. After more than 400 British dead, and hundreds more seriously wounded , not to mention the mind-boggling $350 billion price tag, the campaign has so far cost, it's high time we brought home our brave boys and girls and turned our attention to more pressing concerns, such as reviving the economy and making Britain a great nation once more.
But there is one enormous snag to this otherwise commendable plan: the Afghans are not capable of clearing up their own mess, and won't be in a position to do so for at least a decade. Remember, when all this started, serious military men like General Sir David Richards, now the head of our Armed Forces, and General David Petraeus, the mastermind of the counter-insurgency strategy to defeat Islamist terrorists, warned that this would take at least a decade, if not more.
Instead, out of pure political expediency, Messrs Obama and Cameron are running up the white flag before the job is done, and all the hard work and suffering of the past decade could end up being worthless. Not even their own military and Nato advisers agree with the decision they've taken at the Chicago summit, warning that there is every likelihood the Taliban and their al-Qaeda allies will be back in control of large parts of Afghanistan once we have withdrawn, with all the implications that will have for our own security.
When I was in Kabul in March, Ryan Crocker, the US Ambassador to Afghanistan, gave a stark warning that al-Qaeda was still alive and well in Afghanistan and still plotting to carry out spectacular attacks against the West. You only have to look at what al-Qaeda did in Yemen yesterday to see the group still have the capacity and determination to carry out acts of indiscriminate murder.
No, Mr President, this war is far from over, and when the next bombs start going off on the streets of London and New York, you will be the one to blame.
Con Coughlin, the Telegraph's executive foreign editor, is a world-renowned expert on the Middle East and Islamic terrorism. He is the author of several critically acclaimed books. His new book, Khomeini's Ghost, is published by Macmillan.
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