The more I read about Afghanistan, the more concerned I become about the contending factions faced by President Hamid Karzai's government and the American forces trying to support it.

We have spent $471 million to complete the Afghanistan Dam project, begun in the early 1950s to provide electricity, and the $6 billion we have spent over the past decade to combat the opium trade has helped finance the insurgency and fueled government corruption.

Unfortunately, these problems will be with us in Afghanistan for many years because our interests in the Middle East must be protected. President Barack Obama certainly didn't help, however, when he recently announced that American troops would be withdrawing from that country in 2014.

That, I believe, is nothing more than a political ploy that allows him to play it safe by saying we're are departing regardless of when the situation on the ground have improved.

Quinton D. Thompson, Towson