Though the comments were made several months ago and only became public today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates had a moment of shocking honesty during a May dinner for Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
“We’re not leaving Afghanistan prematurely,” Gates insisted during comments at the dinner, “in fact, we’re not ever leaving at all.” The comments serve as a shocking contrast to his repeated comments over the summer, in which he insisted there was “no question” in his mind that the drawdown from Afghan would start in July 2011.
Gates continued with this public position even after President Obama disavowed the date, and at this point Gen. David Petraeus insists the war could easily last another decade, while NATO countries are disavowing a possible 2014 date to end the war.
Gates’ comments came in the context of his complaints about having “abandoned” Afghanistan after the Soviet occupation ended. With the US now firmly on the side of the former Soviet allies, it seems Gates’ answer is to continue the occupation forever.