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Latest Killing of Al Qaeda Leader Should Convince Obama to Hasten Transition Out of Afghanistan

By Jon Soltz  |  Huffington Post  |  View story in the original context
PUBLISHED: June 05, 2012

Buried beneath the news of the Wisconsin recall election, and Republicans blocking equal pay for women, in the Senate, was perhaps the most significant news in the war on terror since the death of Osama bin Laden : Abu Yahya al-Libi was killed in a drone strike in the Waziristan region of Pakistan. 

Al-Libi was a top deputy to Osama bin Laden, and widely seen as the second in command of al Qaeda, the terrorist network that has crumbled into shambles under the Obama administration. Remember when Republicans from John McCain to Rudy Giuliani said that President Obama would be weak on terror, and the US would be on the defense? 

Wonder how Osama bin Laden, Abu Yahya al-Libi, Anwar al-Awlaki, the leader of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, chief of Pakistan operations Abu Hafs al-Shahri, 'Atiyah 'Abd al-Rahman, Ilyas Kashmiri, Ammar al-Wa'ili, Abu Ali al-Harithi, Ali Saleh Farhan, Harun Fazul, Younis al-Mauritani, Baitullah Mahsud, Noordin Muhammad Top, Saleh al-Somali, Muhammad Haqqani, Qari Zafar, Iraqi al Qaeda leaders Abu Ayyub al-Masri and Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, Sheik Saeed al-Masri, and Hamza al-Jawfi feel about that?

Those are the top al Qaeda commanders who met their demise under the leadership of President Obama.

More importantly, I hope that President Obama and advisors around him recognize that the killing of Al-Libi had no connection to counter-insurgency operations in Afghanistan. The drone killing of him, like the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, were examples of what a counter-terror strategy could do, even if we were to transition to an end of the war in Afghanistan more quickly than currently planned.

The killing of Al-Libi has nothing to do with the planned summer offensive we're about to undertake, to stretch out across Afghanistan in an attempt to take areas of the country we haven't taken.

In short, while this is another momentous moment for President Obama, and his stellar record of keeping America safe by systematically taking out al Qaeda leadership, it is happening outside and not connected to our Afghanistan operations. It can continue to happen, even if we begin to leave.

That's why VoteVets.org has always called on President Obama to adopt a counter-terror mission in the region. Counter-terror operations target the enemy where they are, and take them out. It's the strategy that led to the killing of top al-Qaeda targets around the world, like today. It costs less in money and lives. It doesn't deplete our troops and our military. And it doesn't put military men and women in the position of having to win over an entire country - a mission that, in the case of Afghanistan, will take hundreds of thousands more men and women, and decades.

Whatever one says about President Obama, no one can argue that he hasn't been deliberate and proactive about taking out the terror network that killed over 3000 Americans on 9/11. I hope he takes a moment to put the same deliberate and clear thought towards the future of the war, in light of this latest strike against al Qaeda. If he does, there would be no doubt that he would cancel our planned summer offensive, and speed up our transition to an advise, train, and assist role - the bridge to ending the war in Afghanistan.

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