The Obama Administration miscalculated badly with the December 31 ultimatum on Afghanistan. They threatened to withdraw outright from the country if President Hamid Karzai didn’t sign the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA) to keep US troops in the nation “through 2024 and beyond.”
The assumption that Karzai would be scared into signing off has proven untrue, and there’s just a week left before the “deadline” passes, so now administration officials are playing it off like the deadline was never real to begin with.
Though they say leaving is still “possible,” they insist they’re willing to wait for the deal now. Others conceded that they haven’t considered setting a new deadline and one added “I think it’s pretty obvious why.”
The Afghans never took the threat seriously, and indeed the Pentagon continued to maintain that not occupying Afghanistan in 2015 was not even seriously considered.
Though the US continues to play up the idea of “alternatives,” there is a clear sense that whether netting a signature from Karzai, his successor, or some other random Afghan, the Obama Administration will, by hook or by crook sustain the occupation, and that’s been their intention all along.