In an interview today with the Australian Broadcast Corp, President Barack Obama rejected the notion that the Afghan War was getting worse, despite the growing evidence to that effect, claiming that the Taliban’s momentum had been “blunted” by his multiple escalations of the conflict.
But his more serious pledge was to promise that the United States would not be occupying Afghanistan forever, insisting “we can’t be there in perpetuity.”
Which is of course quite true. After all, the rising cost and rising death toll have already convinced some NATO allies to abandon the conflict, and domestic pressure may force several others to do so in the near future. Several other foreign invasions of Afghanistan have come and gone in finite periods of time, though few ever left of their own volition.
In the same way President Obama’s vague claims of “progress” in the war, coupled with equally vague promises to leave the nation eventually ring seriously hollow, particularly after nine years of similar claims.
Despite the pretense of a Summer 2011 timetable, something Obama Administration officials were rejecting almost as soon as it was announced by the president, few truly envision the war ending in a timely fashion. Even assuming President Obama wins a second term in office in 2012, it seems a very safe bet the war will be inherited by his successor. The occupation will surely end, as all occupations do, but any claim that it will be on America’s own terms flies in the face of nine years of this war’s history and thousands of years of Afghan history.