Speaking today in the wake of a high profile White House meeting, newly elected French President Francois Hollande insisted that his campaign promise to withdraw from Afghanistan had not changed.
“I reminded President Obama of the commitment that I made to the French people – the withdrawal of combat troops between now and the end of 2012,” Hollande said. Hollande defeated Nicolas Sarkozy in a run-off vote.
Obama, sitting next to Hollande during the comments, said that the two agreed on a “long-term” commitment to Afghanistan. France, as with the rest of NATO, is planning on funding Afghanistan’s massive military more or less forever.
But throwing money at Afghanistan and participating militarily in the occupation are two different things, and while both France and the US have seen polls showing overwhelming popular opposition to the occupation, France will be out at the end of the year. The US, by contrast, has a deal to keep troops in the country through at least 2024.