Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Barack Obama’s Not Ending the War in Afghanistan

Barack Obama’s Not Ending the War in Afghanistan:
you've got the watches we've got the time, old afghan proverbBarack Obama campaigned in 2008
on a promise to end the war in Iraq. That promise he
tried his best to break
by supporting a residual force of
10,000 U.S. troops past the 2011 withdrawal date agreed to by
George W. Bush and Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki several
years prior. That plan, in fact, was also endorsed by Mitt Romney;
the Republican presidential nominee called the president out on
this fact at the
last debate
, but Obama responded by outright lying, saying
“what I would not have done is left 10,000 troops in Iraq that
would tie us down” even though that was
exactly
what he tried to do. “That certainly would not help us
in the Middle East,” Obama said of the 10,000 troops both he and
Romney wanted to remain in Iraq past the 2011 withdrawal.
The tentative withdrawal date in Afghanistan is 2014. Unlike the
withdrawal date in Iraq, the Afghanistan date was negotiated not
between the presidents of the U.S. and Afghanistan but
among NATO leaders
, making it much easier for the U.S. to
wriggle out of. In fact, before NATO agreed to withdraw by 2014,
the U.S. and Afghanistan worked out a deal to keep U.S. forces in
Afghanistan for
the next ten years
. That truth was conveniently obscured during
the campaign season but U.S. officials have made it a lot clearer
the U.S. war in Afghanistan is not ending in 2014 since election
day. The week after the election, one general told Congress at his
confirmation hearing to take command in Kabul that the war in
Afghanistan
would certainly have to last past 2014
.
And now the top man for NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John
Allen, is providing a “preliminary assessment” to the Pentagon on

just how many troops ought to remain in Afghanistan after 2014
.
One option being floated is that magical number of
10,000 troops
, to remain, apparently, in order to continue to
train and support Afghan forces and to conduct counterinsurgency
operations. U.S. forces in Afghanistan have been doing that for the
last decade. Despite a vaunted surge in 2009, U.S. forces
continue to suffer from a lack of coherent direction or leadership
in Afghanistan
. The ultimate decision on how many troops will
remain in Afghanistan past 2014 and what they will do, of course,
theoretically rests with the president, one who believes he’s
ending the war in Afghanistan, or at least says so. Two thirds of
Americans, meanwhile,
want the war to end
. Will
empathy
toward their preference be enough to placate?