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Nanfang Daily, China

The Troop Withdrawal in
Afghanistan Is a Political Gamble

By Dang Jianjun

Translated By Yipeng Xie

27 June 2011

Edited by Gillian Palmer

China - Nanfang Daily - Original Article (Chinese)

On June 22, U.S. President Obama claimed the withdrawal of the 33,000 soldiers sent to Afghanistan since his inauguration. Many analyses state that the reason why Obama claimed the withdrawal is because he is concerned about the 2012 presidential election.

Since a large amount of soldiers will come back, their support may be beneficial to Obama’s campaign.

However, the success of Obama’s strategy depends on the more stabilized and improved war situation in Afghanistan. If the state of affairs in Afghanistan grows worse after a large number of U.S. soldiers come back, Obama will suffer new pressure: People opposing the troop withdrawal plan will denounce him for his personal political interest and ignorance of the war’s reality; this troop withdrawal plan could therefore become an unavoidable negative asset. Consequently, in actuality, Obama’s troop withdrawal plan is to some extent highly risky, which can be regarded as his political gamble.

However, to Obama, this political risk is bearable. In the 2012 presidential election, Afghanistan will not be the main issue; neither will be the withdrawal or other diplomatic problems. The 2012 presidential election will only focus on economic problems.

The main reason why Obama was elected as president is that the public hoped that this new face could haul the U.S. out of economic crisis and herald the U.S. into a new era of economic resuscitation. However, in the two and a half years since his inauguration, Obama hasn’t fulfilled the public’s expectations. Currently, the U.S. economy still stays at an ebb; the unemployment rate has been high for a long time. These are the biggest threats to Obama’s re-election. After the leader of al-Qaida, bin Laden, was shot to death, Obama’s approval rating once achieved 60 percent. Nevertheless, according to a recent poll, the approval rating for Obama’s re-election is, for the first time, lower than 50 percent. The main reason for this low approval rating is the economic decline.

If the economic situation lingers into next summer — especially if the high unemployment rate cannot be solved or improved — Obama’s re-election will encounter a tremendous political risk.

However, the problems which challenge Obama are also unavoidable to Republican presidential candidates. The nine Republican candidates who have entered the presidential race so far also need to give solutions to the economic problems. This is not an easy task. After all, even the Federal Reserve Board chairman, Ben S. Bernanke, once said he didn’t know why the U.S. economy remained sluggish.

The risks of Obama’s troop withdrawal don’t stop here. Afghanistan and its neighbors also face a risk.

China needs to comprehensively analyze the risks and possible influences of Obama’s troop withdrawal in Afghanistan and take precautions against all possible situations because China is Afghanistan’s crucial neighbor. Afghanistan’s stability and domestic peace correspond with China’s interests, while chaotic situations and wars may negatively influence China’s interests.



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