Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Securing Afghanistan with a realistic U.S. presence

The only compelling reason for the United States to remain in Afghanistan after NATO ends its combat role there in 2014 is to contain the threat posed by al-Qaida and Taliban-linked extremists. That's why the security arrangement being negotiated between the Obama administration and the Afghan government of President Hamid Karzai should make clear that any remaining U.S. forces will have the latitude to conduct military operations necessary to achieve the mission. Afghan leaders need to decide whether they are more interested in popularity or peace, and Washington should be realistic about the limits of American power.

The outline of a security pact may not come before today, as thousands of Afghan officials and tribal elders begin a five-day meeting to debate whether U.S. forces should remain after NATO ends its combat mission at the end of 2014. The two sides resolved many of the thorniest issues by Wednesday, from continued U.S. support for Afghan security to the U.S. insistence on immunity for American troops. Two major issues remain: the conditions under which American forces may raid Afghan homes, and the request by Karzai's government for Washington to apologize for Afghans who were hurt by NATO's past military mistakes.

The request for an apology is galling given Karzai's history as an unreliable partner and the sacrifice America and its allies have made in 12 years of war. But that pales compared to the larger stakes in prescribing the mission and rules of engagement for any remaining U.S. forces. While the agreement contemplates the United States advising and training Afghan troops, the real security value for America in remaining is in conducting counterterrorism operations. That inevitably requires an aggressive approach. Afghans are still not prepared to lead on intelligence-gathering or counterterror raids. Barring the U.S. special forces from carrying out their capabilities would effectively turn American bases into glorified boot camps.

There is room within this week's assembly to recognize Afghan national pride but also to lay out an effective role for an allied military force. The United States should be clear that without Afghan cooperation, neither side can achieve their common interest in weakening the insurgency. Afghan leaders need to recognize the nature of this war requires taking the fight to the villages. If the Afghans won't and the United States can't, what's the point of staying past 2014 at all?

Afghan leaders can turn these negotiations around by using the assembly to show that the prospects for a strong and functioning central government are real. That would go a long way toward easing concerns in both countries about an open-ended military commitment. We've already done that in Afghanistan for too long, at too high a price.

Comments
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

Editorial: St. Petersburg recycling worth the effort despite cost issues

St. Petersburg’s 3-year-old recycling program has reached an undesirable tipping point, with operating costs exceeding the income from selling the recyclable materials. The shift is driven by falling commodity prices and new policies in China that cu...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Editorial: HUD’s flawed plan to raise rents on poor people

Housing Secretary Ben Carson has a surefire way to reduce the waiting lists for public housing: Charge more to people who already live there. Hitting a family living in poverty with rent increases of $100 or more a month would force more people onto ...
Published: 05/15/18
Updated: 05/18/18