Prayer, Plain and Simple

One year from this month, July 2011 President Obama will begin withdrawing U.S. troops from Afghanistan. For good or ill, his campaign promise is now official policy. But critics of the President’s plans are growing more vocal.

Afghan Ambassador Said Tayeb Jawad told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that the publically stated deadline to begin is unrealistic and unhelpful.

“First, if you over-emphasize a deadline that is not realistic, you are making the enemy a lot more bold,” Jawad said. “You are prolonging the war. That deadline should be realistic. The line should be based on the reality on the ground and we should give a clear message to the enemy, to the terrorists who are a threat to everyone, that the United States, NATO, Afghans are there to finish this job…. If that’s not the feeling, we lost the support of the Afghan people, and also make the neighboring countries of interest a lot more bolder to interfere in Said Tayeb Jawad .”

Senator John McCain echoed the sentiments on ABC’s “This Week.” McCain questioned the wisdom of a firm deadline to start withdrawing forces. “I’m all for dates for withdrawal, but that’s after the strategy succeeds, not before… The president should state unequivocally that we will leave when we have succeeded,” he said. “If you tell the enemy that you’re leaving on a date certain, unequivocally, then that enemy will wait until you leave.”

Lindsey Graham, Senator from South Carolina repeated the warning while visiting Afghanistan in an interview broadcast on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”  “If you send a signal to your enemy you’re going to leave at a certain date, they’ll wait you out.” Graham did go on to express optimism that the counterinsurgency strategy led by Petraeus may succeed before July 2011.

Graham and McCain both urged Obama to clarify the conditions-based approach so that the nation’s allies and enemies understand the U.S. commitment to the war. Both President Barack Obama and Gen. David Petraeus, who replaced Gen. Stanley McChrystal as U.S. commander in Afghanistan, have said the July 2011 withdrawal will depend on conditions on the ground. Leaders are now calling on the President to clarify this caveat in light of his categorical promise to hold the firm deadline.

“God, we pray for peace in Afghanistan. We pray for wisdom for our American officials steering this war, President Obama and Gen. David Petraeus. We pray for wisdom and strength for the Afghan leaders as well. Lord, there is little history of peace in this nation. But you can do anything! You are a God of peace. It is your very name – Shalom! Let Shalom visit Afghanistan. Bring about a spiritual renewal there. Bring an openness for Afghans to see beyond the narrowness of their traditional religion. Open their hearts to see the TRUTH which will set them free. Show them the love and grace of Jesus, and allow them to see that they can embrace the hope of the Gospel without losing the distinctiveness of their own culture. God, we pray today for Afghanistan, in the name of the Prince of Peace!”

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