Thursday, June 23, 2011

What to make of Obama's Afghan pullout


President Obama declared Wednesday that the United States had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan, setting in motion a substantial withdrawal of American troops in an acknowledgement of the shifting threat in the region and fast-changing political and economic landscape in a war-weary America.

Umm... what goals? Isn't that the problem? They were never clearly articulated. The Taliban was removed from power, yes, but that was before Obama became president.

So what was the point?

A stable, democratic Afghanistan? Well, that's not the case?

Just stable? Again, not so much -- not with most of the country largely lawless and with Karzai being little more than mayor of Kabul.

The destruction of al Qaeda and the Taliban? Well, Osama may be dead, but America's enemies linger still. They may not be able to use Afghanistan the way they used to, but, again, that was achieved long before 2008.

Ah, Obama says, the "tide of war is receding," and Afghanistan no longer poses a terrorist threat. But it hasn't for some time.

Look, I'm not saying that the war needs to continue. I've been against it for a long time now. But it's pretty ridiculous essentially to declare victory and to say that the goals have been achieved. The president can only say that because the goals were never clear in the first place, nor when he ramped up the war with more troops, with an Iraq-like "surge."

So we need to ask again: What was it all for?

Or does it not matter anymore, what with the 2012 campaign underway and domestic political considerations weighing even more heavily than before?

Mr. Obama announced plans to withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. The remaining 20,000 troops from the 2009 "surge" of forces would leave by next summer, amounting to about a third of the 100,000 troops now in the country. He said the troop reductions would continue "at a steady pace" until the United States handed over security to the Afghan authorities in 2014. 

Well, that's fine, even if it means three more years of war. But let's see what actually happens, and whether he sticks to the plan. Because, as Think Progress notes, the withdrawal of about 30,000 troops by 2012 would still leave more troops in Afghgnistan than were there when he took over the presidency. 

So what should we make of Obama's Afghan pullout? Not much. Yet.

(For more, see Carl's fine post from yesterday.)

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  • Here's how I see it, whether the time table is tomorrow or in ten years the end results will be the same. Nothing! These people are who they are and resist change in any form. They have been at war probably most of their existence.
    So if we leave ASAP the only thing it will do is save lives and limbs. The great appeaser gave something to everybody with his yawn decree. Yeah yeah your tough. Three wars, how proud a country are we. Being in perpetual War is just what Osama wanted to happen to us. It destroyed Russia, what makes anyone think it won't get us to. The biggest laugh is when it's said we fight them there so we don't have to here. Uh huh, so how many terrorist from 9/11 were Taliban or Al Qaeda. None!

    By Anonymous Tim, at 3:25 PM  

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