Time for Change in Afghanistan

Regarding the Oct. 6 editorial “If We Lose Afghanistan“:

The Post tells us that a Taliban victory would allow al-Qaeda to return to its Afghan planning sanctuary. That, The Post intoned, would be a “catastrophe” — implying another Sept. 11-style attack. But where al-Qaeda sits to plot its attacks on America is irrelevant to our security; the Sept. 11 attacks were planned in Germany and Florida. What matters to our safety is why al-Qaeda has focused on America.

We can minimize our risks with international police work and enhanced security, but until we reduce al-Qaeda’s fixation on America, and the appeal of this fixation to its collaborators, we will not be safe. They don’t hate us, as President George W. Bush claimed, for our freedoms but for our backing of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in Egypt and the House of Saud in the long war over control of the Middle East. We should stop providing weapons, training, covert support and legitimacy to these authoritarian dinosaurs. Our security interests and our values are aligned: Democracy is the best cure for us and the Middle East.

We certainly should aid Afghanistan’s reconstruction after its latest civil war, but we can’t do that until the war ends. Al-Qaeda has left Afghanistan. We should leave, too, before another soldier or civilian dies without purpose.

Caleb Stewart Rossiter is an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.