Secretary of State John Kerry was the latest in the Obama Administration to undercut claims that a “zero option” was being seriously considered, insisting today that the US was absolutely not going to leave by the end of 2014.
“We have been very clear about that. We are not withdrawing,” Kerry insisted. He didn’t provide any specifics on how long the US intends to remain in Afghanistan, but President Obama has signed a deal to potentially stay through 2024.
Kerry’s comments echoed similar statements from the Pentagon, which insisted that they didn’t even consider leaving a real option. This is in contrast to official claims from the White House that the “zero option” is real.
Many analysts believe that the “zero option” is simply a ploy to try to coax better terms out of the Karzai government, though since Karzai’s term in office ends in early 2014, he may not be willing to budge on key issues.