Visiting the US today, Afghanistan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak pressed the Pentagon to commit to its position on the occupation of Afghanistan going forward, insisting that the Karzai government couldn’t survive without continued US military presence beyond 2014.
The Obama Administration has insisted it will withdraw its troops by the end of 2014, but military officials have repeatedly disavowed this date, saying they believed they would be there well beyond this point.
And indeed, Pentagon spokesman Col. Dave Lapan reiterated that today, saying that they reassured Minister Wardak that the Pentagon expects that US troops will still be in Afghanistan past 2014 in some role or another.
An interview published yesterday in the Weekly Standard saw Secretary of Defense Robert Gates insisting that the dates were basically illusory, and that the July 2011 date was meant to trick the Taliban into thinking the war was almost over. Of course, since the date was given to the US public in December 2009 by President Obama, it was also a flat out lie to the American voters. Gates insisted the date was also about pushing Karzai to move faster on reforms, which of course he didn’t.