Recently, the war in Afghanistan reached a milestone that is not to be celebrated by Americans. It has become the longest war in U.S. history; for almost 10 years American servicemen and women have been fighting in that country.

Here at George Mason University, there are numerous active duty service men and women. The state of Virginia has around a 100,000 on active duty, and the overall active duty American military totals 1.4 million.

I hope Americans don’t need a history lesson as to why we’re there. The terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were planned in the mountainous caves of that nation.

The Taliban government enthusiastically sponsored Osama bin Laden’s religious holy war on the U.S. by allowing him and his al-Qaeda terrorist group to work, plot, and train with impunity within their borders.

In response to the murder of nearly 3,000 people on 9/11, the U.S. swiftly toppled the Taliban government. We also killed or captured many high profile terrorists operating in Afghanistan, while bin Laden escaped.

Many could and have argued that America’s invasion of Iraq was equivalent to taking our eye off the intended target. However, it is worth noting that while al-Qaeda’s Iraq operations were attempting to destabilize that nation, Afghanistan was relatively free of major hostilities.

After the surge strategy in Iraq in 2007, local Iraqi leaders turned against al-Qaeda’s tactics, which dealt a pivotal blow to al-Qaeda in Iraq.

As U.S. forces were beating back the Iraq insurgency, violence in Afghanistan began to tick upward. One could surmise that any terrorists that were left decided to flee Iraq and take up the fight in Afghanistan instead.

Throughout 2009 and 2010, bad news has become a weekly occurrence. Violence is up, General Stanley McChrystal was fired, Afghan President Hamid Karzai effectively stole an election to remain in power, and Karzai admitted to being open to talks with the Taliban.

Last fall, President Barack Obama conducted an Afghan strategy review to determine America’s next move. This review is extensively covered in Bob Woodward’s new book, “Obama’s Wars”.

In the published excerpts, the former Watergate veteran uncovers major disagreements between Obama’s advisers. Most notably, it is reported that Obama was “frustrated with his military commanders” due to his insistence on an exit plan.

In the end the president rejected Vice President Joe Biden’s small, narrow mission and the military’s suggested 40,000 to 60,000 troop escalation.

Amazingly, it was Obama who solely designed the 30,000-troop increase with a summer 2011 withdrawal timeline.

Far be it for me to question the commander in chief on this, but with what expertise did the president make this decision? Obama ignored the only people who knew the region and the armed forces.

Did he fall back on his illustrious 18-month career in the U.S. Senate?

Also troubling is the withdrawal date itself.

It has been reported that the Taliban has been sending out leaflets to tribal leaders that the Americans are leaving. In a war that depends on whether tribal leaders stand with you, the Taliban is making a persuasive case that they will be in Afghanistan longer than the U.S. will.

This fits with their threat of retribution to those who ally with the American and NATO forces.

Above all, the most notable and shocking revelation is why he sent fewer troops with a timetable.

Woodward notes that, “The president concluded from the start that ‘I have two years with the public on this’ and pressed advisers for ways to avoid a big escalation, the book says. ‘I want an exit strategy,’ … he set a withdrawal timetable because, ‘I can’t lose the whole Democratic Party.’”

I find this jaw-dropping. The commander in chief is refusing military strategies, refusing the three decades of foreign policy expertise of his Vice President, in order to focus on…politics?

That should be the last thing to be considered. If the president believed that we should withdraw “from the start,” then why throw 30,000 men and women into a warzone you intend to abandon?
Beyond my initial admiration of our fighting men and women, I have a particular respect for those from this university who defend us.

These soldiers deserve a commander-in chief-whose sole objective is how to win on the battlefield.

If Obama does not want to be in Afghanistan, he should order the troops home today. He shouldn’t try to placate the political right by surging and pacify the political left by withdrawing.
All he’s doing is sending young Americans from this university and around the country into a war and then pulling out to satisfy his party’s electoral concerns. To play politics in wartime is as dangerous as it is reckless.

To do so constitutes the most grossly un-presidential action Obama has taken.