President Barack Obama announced Wednesday night from the White House his plan to withdraw 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year and all of the 33,000 surge forces by the end of next summer. By that time almost 70,000 troops will remain in the war torn country, twice the amount as when Obama assumed office. By 2014, he said, our transition to a support role in Afghanistan will be complete.
The decision comes after an extended debate within the administration over the scale and pace of the withdrawal. But the confines of the debate in Washington are too narrow to include a long-term solution to the ten-year quagmire.
Pressure from both political parties also put increased weight on the decision today. Republicans have been voicing concerns about the ongoing war effort, while growing numbers of Democrats have been pressing Obama for a full drawdown of troops. The American people are pessimistic about the war and 73 percent prefer a substantial withdrawal this summer.
Other factors have been causing a shift away from support for the war. The killing of Osama bin Laden last month has rendered the purpose of the war moot for many people. Additionally, U.S. officials have been involved in negotiations with the Taliban with the aim of a political settlement to the conflict, one that may include a power-sharing agreement with top Taliban leaders. This has led many to doubt the necessity of a fight against those with whom we are also cooperating.
But while these quibbles over the pace of partial withdrawals consume the headlines, concerns are rising over a more permanent military presence in Afghanistan. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said publicly that his talks with U.S. officials have included the possibility of troops being kept there past 2014, the year set ostensibly for a full withdrawal of all foreign forces. Secret deliberations have reportedly included a long-term security agreement in which the U.S. military would remain for decades to come.
But the human and economic costs are far too great to justify another military satellite for the U.S. empire. The Afghanistan war costs American taxpayers more than $2 billion every week, which is off-putting to an electorate in a severe economic recession. Growing discontent with debt and the deficit has made such expenses a political liability.
The violence in the ravaged country has been increasing, with last month being the deadliest month for civilians since 2007 and other such records being broken all the time. The U.S. relationship with President Karzai has been tense as he has offered ‘last warnings’ to NATO about halting its reckless airstrikes which often kill high numbers of innocents.
A recently released congressional investigation concluded that U.S. nation-building efforts in Afghanistan fuel corruption and distort local economies, undermining U.S. aims to stabilize the country. American-trained and funded Afghan militias have reportedly terrorized the local civilian populations, in some cases “beating, robbing and even killing with impunity.”
In addition to these troubling consequences of U.S. policies in Afghanistan, problems with the overall strategy arise as well.
The Obama administration has left the actual goal of the military mission in Afghanistan unclear. If the goal is to dismantle and destroy the al Qaeda threat, the mission has long been accomplished. Back in 2009, there were only an estimated 100 al Qaeda forces in the country and their presence is now far too limited to justify tens of thousands of troops or more.
Fears that the remaining Taliban presence threatens America or that they may give sanctuary to al Qaeda after a withdrawal are unsupported by the facts. The relationship between the two groups has soured, making collusion unlikely, and the Taliban have no broader foreign policy goals outside of ousting foreign occupiers. This effectively eliminates a direct threat to the national security of the U.S. and thus leaves continuation of the war untenable.
If the mission is instead to build a stable centralized government in Afghanistan, this is similarly unsustainable. It may be effective in expanding American military presence around the globe – an end in itself for national security planners – but it is ineffective in fighting terrorism and indeed may even be a central goal of al Qaeda, as a persistent military presence in the Muslim world broadens their constituency.
The war in Afghanistan also contributes to an increasingly unstable Pakistan. Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari told the Guardian that the war is “destabilizing Pakistan and seriously undermining efforts to restore its democratic institutions and economic prosperity after a decade of military dictatorship.”
Wednesday’s announced troop withdrawals were perhaps more drastic than many in Washington might have preferred, but it still marks an ongoing war and occupation that is not only wasteful and deadly, but obstructs any viable end to America’s war on terror.
10 thoughts on “Minor Withdrawal in Afghanistan, War Continues”
“All indications are that President Obama will make a major announcement regarding the Afghan War drawdown on Wednesday, with media outlets putting the overall figure in the realm of 30,000 to 33,000.”
Now these are Obama words:
"We are a nation whose strength abroad has been anchored in opportunity for our citizens at home," Obama said in the brief twelve minute speech from the White House East Room. "Over the last decade, we have spent a trillion dollars on war, at a time of rising debt and hard economic times. Now, we must invest in America's greatest resource — our people." "America, it is time to focus on nation building here at home," he said.
So that what is been all about for last 60 years.., finally someone admits that wars and occupations of other nations and countries been good for US.., yet.., is that means that Libya war is over now Mr. president and USG will follow Italy wanting to end the war there.., finally.., killing all those whom have another nationality, costing the people around the world all that torment and money by going to wars
( off course on lies) creating a new war in Libya so that USG could start building a “new nation” at home…? What a concept.., and off course he tells you this because of the fact that: “at a time of rising debt and hard economic times”. otherwise if US and EU were not bankrupt he/they would have continued with Bush legacy and started the war with Iran asking Israel to help out…, so that’s it.., no more war Mr. President.., no more lies and no more hostilities toward nations around the world.., or few more wars here and there based on “Nation Building” is still on the “table” to correct or rebuild few of those “nations” whom disagree with USG in general which is its foreign policies.
But Mr. President there are still few Tyrants out there and Mr. President.., let me suggest.., how about Saudi Arabia and Arab Emirates they really need to be rebuilt because they are the true Tyrants acting as one and you know it.., or for that matter Israel.., they need to be rebuilt by being a apartheid regime. Close the democratic party there is no democracy coming out of this political party, is a falsified concept been feeding from the US working man and women for years and now this….!
What a disappointment OBAMA has been ever since he was elected. He has abandoned every thing he so forcefully appeared to stand for PRIOR to his election.
Really he is a disgrace to all the principles thatb a President Of The USA is supposed to stand for.
Not one word he says now can be believed OR should be believed.
Unfortunately, I think the Obots are correct when they claim he campaigned on moving resources from Iraq to Afghanistan.
Doesn't mean that it's OK for him to keep us there, but it's hard to really say we should be disappointed—he was never clearly antiwar, as his disappointing US Senate record shows.
Then there are 2 entities who should be embarrassed…The media, for not FORCIBLY pressing candidate Obama on what his stances were – "Will you end or extend the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Will you prosecute the war crimes from the previous Administration? Will you prosecute corporations involved in the abrogation of the Constitution and established laws (illegal spying on American citizens), etc., etc., etc.
And us, the citizens of the US who sat idly and comfortably back watching the media NOT doing their jobs and allowing them to slide. We decided that we would accept at face value whatever the media told us, knowing that it wasn't the entire story but generally too lazy to press the media for more information. I'm as much guilty as any, maybe more, as I was paying attention and thus knew that there was more and that we were hearing much less than we really needed to hear – and I sat here behind the keyboard and left little tidbits in blogs and comment sections that generally amounted to absolutely NOTHING – just like I'm doing right now. Pitiful, really.
So, as far as Obama goes, we got what we asked for, expecting more, hoping for more but based on what he actually said he'd do, exactly what he promised. We have no room for complaint.
Even the MSNBC hosts were not happy with this "speech" and "drawdown".
Now you know you have problems.
The preening, primping Obama pulls some troops from Afghanistan. Does he need them for his African ambitions?
Is it a "withdrawal" if the same number of mercenaries that were "surged" a couple of years ago, are now withdrawn (minus the ones that already came back in body bags)?
Somehow, the fat hypnotized Amerikan cows will not remember this and start pandering on how Obama is ending the war in Afghanistan and all because math (among many other things) is not their subject.
Lying deceiving, arrogant, mass murderer obomber and his posturing lackeys will go down with ship of empire …still spinning the deadly lies and deceptions !
LIAR and scheming Barack Hussein Obama was schrewd enough to put on a 'White face" – to appear to be a different Black; to appear to be a Black that Whites could support; to deftly hide his true ideology of hatred towards Anti-Colonists, and Anti-NeoColonists that he considers America to be – he LIED himself into the White House – and what he is now doing has got nothing to do what we all expected from him.
He fooled ALL of US – now the question is – are we all so stupid and dumb to again vote him into the White House in 2012?
Sending 30,000 troops to Afghanistan in a 'surge' and starting to withdraw 10,000 – NOT really a withdrawal nor winding down a war that can NOT and will NOT be won – whatever 'winning' is suppose to be?
The arrogant mass murderer in chief just continues with his deadly lies and deceptions !
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