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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Bin Laden death an end to Afghan war?

The killing of Osama bin Laden in a US military operation in Pakistan has reinvigorated debate in Washington on whether the US troops should now withdraw from Afghanistan.

Politicians from both the right and the left are calling for significant troops drawdown given that the al-Qaeda leader was the reason behind the US-led invasion of Afghanistan, as the daily cost of the war exceeds USD 300 million, a Press TV correspondent in Washington reported on Tuesday. 

“The American people are not supportive of the war in Afghanistan to begin with. Now that Osama bin Laden is killed, I think they are going to have much less reason to support it,” said Larry Korb of the Center for American Progress. 

The White House says bin Laden's death serves as a boost for continuing military operations to weaken al-Qaeda and that Washington would not stop the so-called war on terror. 
“Our message to Taliban remains the same, but today it may have even greater resonance. You cannot wait us out. You cannot defeat us, but you can make the choice to abandon al-Qaeda and participate in a peaceful political process,” US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said upon the announcement of bin Laden's death. 

The Committee on Foreign Relations, however, held a hearing in which panelists discussed the failures of the Afghan war as well as a strategy to leave the country. 

“Our military leaders and our civilian leaders have repeated the mantra. There is no military victory to be had in Afghanistan. That is true then and we accept that it is then we need to fashion the political resolution,” Head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee John Kerry said. 

Analysts and military experts believe that the United States delayed the killing of bin Laden to continue the presence of US-led forces in war-torn Afghanistan. The lack of transparency over bin Laden's death has cast further doubt over the announcement. 

According to Korb, who is a former Assistant Secretary of Defense, bin Laden caused more damage to the US after the September 11, 2001 attacks than it did on that day because of Washington's disproportionate reaction. 

Korb also said that negotiations with the Taliban need to take place with Turkey -- as a Muslim nation as well as a NATO member state -- taking the lead. 

“Bin Laden has caused an awful lot of damage not only in terms of our financial situation, but our civil liberties, the way that we overreacted as a country to this also in terms of the things we did like in Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib and the people we captured in other countries who don't treat prisoners according to Geneva Convention,” he added. 

Celebrations have been taking place every day in front of the White House for the death of bin Laden, who has long been considered public enemy number one in the American psyche. 

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