From the campaign promise to leave Iraq in 16 months to the pledge to close Guantanamo Bay’s detention facility in one year, the Obama Administration has never had a problem playing fast and loose with timetables it never intended to follow through with.
But no date has died an unceremonious death more rapidly than President Obama’s July 2011 Afghan pullout timetable, which officials were already downplaying within 24 hours and now, less than a week later, is being presented by top administration officials as a sham that was dead on arrival.
Rather it seems a date was given only as “a signal of urgency” and every top official, from the Secretary of State to the Secretary of Defense and the National Security Adviser, say that the date doesn’t mean troops will start coming home in any meaningful way on that date, or that the war will end anywhere near that date.
“We have strategic interests in South Asia that should not be measured in terms of finite times,” Jones said, adding “we’re going to be in the region for a long time.”
According to Secretary Clinton, the administration is “not talking about an exit strategy” and that instead the date will be a time to make an assessment of how the war is going. Secretary Gates said Americans should be prepared for a “big” presence in Afghanistan for four years more.
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