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How To Leave Afghanistan

How to get out of Afghanistan, without leaving a catastrophe behind. The pressure is rising.

An Afghan soldier speaks to civilians gathered outside a military base in Panjwai, Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, March 11, 2012. Afghan President Hamid Karzai says a U.S. service member has killed more than a dozen people in a shooting including nine children and three women. Karzai called the attack Sunday "an assassination" and demanded an explanation from the United States. He says several people were also wounded in the attack on two villages near a U.S. base in the southern province of Kandahar. (AP)An Afghan soldier speaks to civilians gathered outside a military base in Panjwai, Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, March 11, 2012. Afghan President Hamid Karzai says a U.S. service member has killed more than a dozen people in a shooting including nine children and three women. Karzai called the attack Sunday "an assassination" and demanded an explanation from the United States. He says several people were also wounded in the attack on two villages near a U.S. base in the southern province of Kandahar. (AP)

An Afghan soldier speaks to civilians gathered outside a military base in Panjwai, Kandahar province south of Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, March 11, 2012. Afghan President Hamid Karzai says a U.S. service member has killed more than a dozen people in a shooting including nine children and three women. Karzai called the attack Sunday "an assassination" and demanded an explanation from the United States. He says several people were also wounded in the attack on two villages near a U.S. base in the southern province of Kandahar. (AP)

Surveillance video out of Afghanistan shows the US soldier who allegedly shot sixteen Afghan villagers on Sunday walking back up to his base after the killings, laying down his weapon, and raising his arms in surrender.  A sad image.  Tragic.  But that’s the urge a lot of Americans are sharing on Afghanistan.

Lay down the weapons.  Come home.  Now.  Newt Gingrich says the war is “un-doable”.  President Obama says let’s be steady.  The threat is disaster after withdrawal.  Taliban.  Civil war.

This hour, On Point:  How to get out of Afghanistan without leaving a catastrophe behind.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Laura King, Los Angeles Times Kabul bureau chief.

Ahmed Rashid, journalist and commentator. He’s author of the new book “Pakistan on the Brink: The Future of America, Pakistan, and Afghanistan.”

Thomas Johnson, director of the Program for Culture & Conflict Studies at the Naval Postgraduate School. Back in 2009, Johnson co-wrote an op-ed imagining a fictional and messy end of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan.

Jim McGovern, a congressman representing the Massachusetts third Congressional district.

From Tom’s Reading List

Slate “The game is over in Afghanistan. An American presence can no longer serve any purpose. Or, rather, it can only extend and exacerbate the pathologies of this war. It is time to get out, and more quickly than President Obama had been planning. The consequences of leaving may be grim, but the consequences of staying are probably grimmer.”

The New York Times “The outrage from the back-to-back episodes of the Koran burning and the killing on Sunday of at least 16 Afghan civilians imperils what the Obama administration once saw as an orderly plan for 2012: to speed the training of Afghan forces so that they can take the lead in combat missions, all while drawing the Taliban into negotiations to end more than a decade of constant war. ”

Foreign Policy “Afghanistan policy is in crisis, at least in the United States. With Osama bin Laden now dead, some are wondering whether it’s time to declare this mission accomplished — or with Afghanistan so troubled, perhaps it’s mission impossible? In fact, it is mission incomplete: The Afghanistan mission is going worse than we had all hoped, but better than many understand. With patience and perseverance, we can still struggle to a tolerable outcome.”

Mentioned On-air

A caller on the show today mentioned this article written by her son, a Marine just back from service in Afghanistan.

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