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Originally published June 27, 2010 at 2:01 PM | Page modified June 27, 2010 at 4:16 PM

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We are running out of reasons to remain in Afghanistan

The Seattle Times Editorial Board calls for an end to the occupation of Afghanistan.

THE firing of Gen. Stanley McChrystal was a foregone conclusion after he publicly disparaged the president. The better question is why U.S. forces are in Afghanistan at all.

The United States was not attacked by Afghanistan, but by a band of terrorists trained at a private camp there. The NATO occupation is based on the assumption that if the Taliban return to power, they will invite al-Qaida to set up another camp.

The Taliban's goal is to put Afghanistan under religious law, with themselves administering it. To do that, they need to be left alone, and if they want that, they cannot permit an al-Qaida camp, which would likely trigger an American response.

So why can't America exit this budget-busting war and bring our soldiers home? Let them have their religious state.

The defenders of the war offer weak and unconvincing answers. For example, The Economist, the London-based magazine, gives three reasons in its June 24 issue why the United States and the United Kingdom cannot bring their troops home.

First is that Afghanistan would be "vulnerable to a civil war that would suck in the local powers including Iran, Pakistan, India and Russia." In other words, if America gets out of the killing zone other countries will go in, therefore America should stay in. And that makes no sense.

The Economist's second reason not to leave is that it "would be a humiliation for the West." We remember hearing that argument when U.S. forces were hip deep in Vietnam. Withdrawal would hurt American "prestige." It would make America look weak.

In fact, what made America weak was the war, draining us in treasure and blood. Exiting Vietnam helped America get its strength back — especially its military strength.

The magazine's final reason for remaining stuck in Afghanistan is that "having invaded their country, the West has a duty to return it to them in a half-decent state."

We would put a period after "them." Never mind about making Afghanistan decent. That is up to the Afghans.

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