Obama Looks to Ditch Afghan Withdrawal Date

With Petraeus Taking Charge, Focus Turns to Withdrawal Strategy, or Lack Thereof

With Gen. Stanley McChrystal now just a memory and General David Petraeus looking to continue roughly the same strategy in Afghanistan, the upcoming vote on $33 billion in emergency funding for the war has put a renewed focus on the July 2011 drawdown date.

For the Obama Administration, it is a date they would just as soon forget, and a promise, though only a few months old, they wish they hadn’t made. The war is going even worse now than it was a year ago, and there is little hope for the immediate or even long-term future, though officials maintain they intend to stay in the nation until some ill-defined victory is achieved.

Officials have been pooh-poohing the July 2011 date since it was announced in December, and President Obama finally took the formal step of disavowing the date last week. Since then he has taken his comments a step further, publicly condemning his critics and accusing them of being “obsessed” with leaving Afghanistan.

Nine years into the war, this has left President Obama admitting, for all intents and purposes, that the drawdown strategy that was at best nominally in place is now completely out of sight and out of mind, except for the occasional Congressmen asking when or even if the US will ever leave Afghanistan. They questions are done away with, of course, but at the cost of conceding that there is no real withdrawal strategy.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.