Though it hardly needed to be stated publicly at this point, some 11 years into a bloody occupation, Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak felt the need to remind everyone that the only way his government will remain in power after 2014 is with a continued US military presence.
“The number itself is not that much important,” Wardak said. The vital factor is the US commitment to keeping the Karzai regime in power militarily, as it would be naturally assumed that any effort by any rebel faction to overthrow it would be met by a re-escalation by US forces.
2014 is an important year rhetorically, because NATO officials have presented it as the year the war “ends,” even though officials have been insisting virtually since that date was announced that it doesn’t actually mean an end to the occupation but simply the start of a “transitional” period of some indeterminate length.
Though some nations are keen to be more or less out of Afghanistan by the start of 2015, US officials have predicted that they will remain “well beyond” that time, and have been negotiating the terms for keeping US troops in the nation for at least another decade thereafter – up to 2024.
There is something almost passive-aggressive about Wardak reminding people in a press conference of the open-ended nature of the US military “commitment” to Afghanistan, particularly when recent polls have showed record opposition to the war among US voters.
The 2024 negotiations are far from secret, but they haven’t been widely publicized in the US media. The Obama Administration has sought to keep the war off the front pages during this election year, and has restricted his official comments to vague claims of “progress” and of undefined metrics being “on pace.”
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