President Obama’s high profile drawdown announcement may mean virtually nothing on the ground in Afghanistan, but its rhetorical value as a “beginning of the end” announcement is enormous, and has major war participants France and Britain looking to follow along.
Almost immediately after President Obama spoke, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that his nation’s announcements would come “in a timeframe similar to the pullback of the American reinforcements.”
British Prime Minister David Cameron also, as was widely expected, announced that their own drawdown might be escalated, with reports that Britain will announce the exact timing of their withdrawal in July. British military commanders have lashed Cameron for his eagerness to exit Afghanistan in recent weeks.
Not everyone is making for the exits, however. Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard says that her government’s current plan to keep troops in the nation until 2014 is unchanged in the wake of the announcement.