As I said in July 2010, it is time for the U.S. to pull out of Afghanistan. At that time, General Petraeus had just replaced General McChrystal as the Commanding General in Afghanistan, the more important war as declared by our Commander-in-Chief.

In July 2009, the U.S. sent 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan to begin a counterinsurgency against the resurgent Taliban and to help the Afghan people develop a trust in their government in Kabul. Petraeus was to oversee that effort and bring about a success in the country as he had done in Iraq during the counterinsurgency in 2006-2007. What has happened since then? Essentially, nothing. Afghanistan continues to be a nation populated by various tribes. The Pashtun have the greatest numbers, and the Taliban are members from that tribe. From what we read in and hear, there is little respect for the government in Kabul and corruption is rife.

President Obama, when increasing troops in 2009, told Afghans that our troops would be gone by the end of 2014. Now, NATO and the U.S. are indicating that 2013 will be the exit date. Is that because the goals for our invasion will have been met? Our original goals were to get rid of Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. Bush’s forces quickly accomplished the first goal and turned attention to Iraq. Obama completed that goal with the Navy Seal’s liquidation of Osama Bin Laden last year in Pakistan. So those two goals have been accomplished.

Clearly, the Afghanis are not happy with the presence of the U.S. or its NATO allies. Their cultures differ vastly from those of the West. They are tribal, and for the most part Muslim. We are an irritant to them. They will comport themselves as they wish, regardless of Western attempts to welcome them into the rest of the world. Tragically, this divide has now taken on religious overtones.

The three religions with the greatest number of adherents in the world — Judaism, Christianity, and Islam — historically descended from one man, Abraham. All have vested interests in Jerusalem. A goal for all of these religions is to enable mankind to live at peace and with grace with his fellow man. That goal is a true indication that religious beliefs are meant to foster good interpersonal relationships: The Golden Rule. Prior to the evolution of these three religions, tribes of humans would run into conflict with nearby different tribes and the natural results were wars. Religions, properly practiced, should get rid of that scourge; however, man, being what he is, has developed the attitude that my religion is the true religion and therefore better and more important than yours.

Each religion has respect for its teachings: The Bible and the Koran. Practitioners of Islam differ because they believe that the Koran is truly a holy instrument and any disrespect is a disrespect of Allah and therefore punishable by death. The recent burning of volumes of the Koran by U.S. soldiers on a NATO airbase in Afghanistan revealed the intensity of those Islamic beliefs.

Afghan prisoners at that airbase were writing incendiary messages in their Korans and passing them to other prisoners. This practice was discovered and the U.S. military confiscated those Korans and burned them. Our press tells us that this burning was not an overt action of disrespect for the Koran, but was part of a cleaning up process. Who really knows? That act of burning was considered an overt humiliation for Afghan Muslims and they have reacted by continuous indiscriminate killings of U.S. military personnel in their country. Apologies by our president have not dissuaded them. Killings are even going on in other compounds that are supposed to be secure for U.S. and NATO forces.

Vice President Joe Biden had it right when he suggested in 2010 that the U.S. pull out of the country and leave the battle to continue under the aegis of the Central Intelligence Agency, Navy SEALS and other covert agents. (Interesting that David Petraeus now heads the CIA.) Biden had it right then and his reasoning is even more true today.

We are not welcome there.

At present, tribal Afghanis are hostile to the West, they do not trust the West, and their methods of controlling their societies are incompatible with western values.

Get our troops out of Afghanistan and encourage NATO allies to do the same. Keep our security agencies below the radar, but watchful and active. Let the Afghans battle it out among themselves. The unraveling in Pakistan will add to the current problems in the area; and adjacent friends in India and potential threats from Iran will not ease the situation. But the distress in the Middle East is no longer worth the cost of American lives. Bring the troops home and let our clandestine forces do their jobs.

As social media continues to open up the world and gradually leads to a universally sought unification of all mankind, Afghans will welcome all of us back into their sphere. One trouble with American exceptionalism is: We want in, now.