President Obama’s public comments related to the decade-long occupation of Afghanistan have never exactly been internally consistent, but today he seemed to go entirely off script, sending the most mixed messages yet on the conflict.
In one segment of comments, Obama termed the Afghan War “over” and promised that Afghanistan would now enjoy a “transformational decade of peace” starting with the summit. In another, he warned of “hard days ahead” in the war, urging NATO to remain united on keeping the fight going.
“We still have a lot of work to do,” Obama added, while insisted that the war had made “excellent progress” and that he was “on the right track.” On May 1 President Obama signed a deal to keep US ground troops in the nation through 2024.
But today the 2024 deadline was completely missing from the dialogue, and the president kept presenting 2014 as the end of the “combat mission.” As with Iraq, we have seen that the US is more than willing to redefine troops as “non-combat” while continuing to engage in combat missions, and this may well be what we have to look forward to in the Afghan War from 2015-2024.