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Not Quite "Mission Accomplished"
President Obama: We Stay in Afghanistan

It’s long been of President Obama’s goals to wind down America’s commitment in both of the active wars he inherited when he assumed the office in 2008. Now, facing pressure from the U.S. Army, the CIA, Congress, and even Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Obama will later today announce a reversal of his commitment to withdraw all but 1,000 soldiers by the time he leaves office. We’re staying. Indefinitely. The New York Times:

Now, instead of falling back to the embassy — a heavily fortified compound in the center of Kabul — the administration officials said on Wednesday that the military would be able to maintain its operations at Bagram Air Field to the north of Kabul, the main American hub in Afghanistan, and at bases outside Kandahar in the country’s south and Jalalabad in the east.

All three bases are crucial for counterterrorism operations and for flying drones that are used by the military and the C.I.A., which had also argued for keeping troops in Afghanistan to help protect its own assets.

There was no set date for the military to decrease the number of troops in Afghanistan to 5,500, said the administration officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to pre-empt Mr. Obama’s announcement. The pace of that troop reduction would be determined largely by commanders on the ground, and the timing would also most likely provide flexibility to whoever succeeds Mr. Obama.

The move is a response to the Taliban’s surge: The group’s reach in Afghanistan is at its broadest level since 2001, the UN reported earlier this week. And last month’s fall of Kunduz vividly demonstrated that a few hundred determined Taliban fighters were able to best thousands of Afghan police and military personnel in a coordinated attack. Though the city was retaken a week later, the tide only turned once Western soldiers joined the fight.

Though Obama Administration officials insist that a recalibration of Obama’s withdrawal plans was being debated for months, it’s clear that the Kunduz debacle tipped the scales definitively. Now if only such consideration had been given to the precipitous withdrawal from Iraq…

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  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    “Now if only such consideration had been given to the precipitous withdrawal from Iraq…”

    I believe it is too late now to recover the Strategy of changing the Islamic Culture that is spawning all the murderous Jihadists, by planting a seed of the Superior American Culture in the middle of Islamoland Iraq. We know this Strategy was working as the “Arab Spring” proves, but Obama abandoned the “seedling” before it was ready to stand on its own. In America’s other uses of this Strategy (Cultural Judo), it took decades of American protection (Germany, Japan, South Korea) for the Strategy to be successful. Obama is blindly stupid to have wasted all the Blood (thousands of American lives), Treasure (Trillions of Dollars), and Time (over a decade) America spent. Now we can add Iraq, to the failure in Vietnam, as evidence of how this Strategy fails. That we will now stay in Afghanistan, which is NOT central to the source (mostly middle-eastern Arabs) of the spawning Jihadists, is just more evidence of Obama’s incompetence as he sets America up for another failure.

  • Fat_Man

    Reacting to bad publicity is not a strategy. Afghanistan is the wrong place to make a stand.

    Logistically, Afghanistan which is landlocked and surrounded by Iran, Pakistan, and Russia*, is impossible without the total cooperation of at least one of those powers. Start by forgetting Iran and Russia, they are our enemies.

    Pakistan pretends to be our ally, but they are, in fact, our enemy. They created the Taliban and have run its anti-American guerrilla war. They succored bin Laden. leaving with control over our logistical access to Afghanistan is suicidal.

    The only rational strategy is to get our personnel, civilian, and military out of Afghanistan, and to acknowledge that Pakistan is our enemy. I think that after the last hostages out of Afghanistan, we should bomb all of the fancy military equipment we so improvidently gave the Pakistani military. We should also formally ally ourselves with India against Pakistan.

    *I know about the Stans, but they are surrounded by Russia, so they don’t count.

    • f1b0nacc1

      You are precisely correct. There is nothing in Afghanistan that is worth a single scratch on a single American soldier, and the population is uninterested in our ‘reform’ project. Let us acknowledge that we were mistaken, and leave, first promising violent retribution to the locals if they shelter or nurture future attackers against us
      Before we leave, provide small arms and a generous supply of ammunition to the women of Afghanistan. It won’t solve the problem, but it will help.

      • bannedforselfcensorship

        I am going to devil’s advocate here:

        1) Afghanistan has been occupied for only 14 years. How long were we in Korea before it became a democracy? Decades longer.

        2) Every year we stay, a lot of the population in the urban areas get educated, including girls. Eventually, this may matter.

        3) A cheap deployment of troops might be worthwhile if it prevents the chance of having to go back in later.

        4) Bad signal to allies that we leave at the drop of a hat.

        My devil’s advocacy is based on a small footprint and low cost. If it needs 100,000 guys, this doesn’t make much sense.

        • f1b0nacc1

          None of your points are bad ones, and I don’t disagree with you in any serious way. My own view, however, is that the culture here (insular like the Koreans, but aggressively corrupt and violent in a way that the Koreans never imagined) is a big problem, and one that I don’t believe America is willing to take the time and show the determination to correct. In truth we are too politically correct, too egalitarian, and too multicultural at this point to recognize (and state for the record) that this culture is inferior, and must be erased or reformed in order for the society to prosper. If we could, then things might be different, but we cannot, and thus we will not. With that as the case, they just aren’t worth the trouble.
          As for points 3 and 4, deploying troops (in any role other than spotters for air and missile strikes) isn’t necessary to neutralize the place as a threat, and if we stick to that policy (‘rubble don’t make trouble’), we can easily make our intentions clear to allies (point 4). Not a particularly nice way of looking at things, but sadly appropriate in this case.

  • Kevin

    Christ. This smacks of ‘who lost China’ nonsense. The SOFA WAS AGREED TO AND SIGNED BY BUSH. The American people elected a president who was opposed to the war and the sectarian leaders of Iraq wanted us to leave. This blog is like Fox News but with fewer American flags sometimes.

    • Dale Fayda

      Misdirection and obfuscation are a liberal stock in trade. Not to belabor the obvious, but the situation in China in 1949 and in Iraq in 2011 are worlds apart in scope and in the then-existing ability of the US to affect the outcome.

      Obama CHOSE to ignore the continued presence of Al-Qaeda in Iraq, CHOSE to downplay the rise of ISIS, CHOSE to bail out of Iraq as fast as possible against the advice of his top brass, CHOSE to mislead the American public on the gravity of the situation in Iraq before the US withdrawal and CHOSE to barely go through the motions of combating ISIS in his second term and that’s only after ISIS began to behead Americans on video.

      Obama threw away all American gains in Iraq, because he fundamentally doesn’t like the US and wants to take it down a few pegs. He believes that the Iraq war was/is unjust, even though he was kinda sorta forced to fight it, that USA as founded is unjust, that American power and influence are unjust and that a decisive victory by US anywhere would be unjust.

      Compare the situation in Iraq and Syria at the end of Bush’s last term to the all-consuming debacle it is now. Which is better – then or now? If it’s the former, why and who was responsible? If it’s the latter, why and who is responsible?

      • Kevin

        Huh? Some of what you say is true (Obama believes the Iraq war is / was dumb). Most of the other nonsense proves my (transparent red flag in bulls face) Fox News quip. We will have to agree to disagree I guess.

    • Tom

      It may have escaped your notice, but, like all treaties, SOFAs can be renegotiated. Our current president did not take that option. Also, by the way, shrieking “Fox News” is not a substitute for argument.

      • Kevin

        See Dale Fayda on why shrieking Fox News is a great way to describe some of the nonsense on this site. Why would a president elected based in part on his opposition to the war in Iraq renegotiate the sofa so he could continue to keep US troops in the war he opposed?

        • Tom

          Perhaps because he decided that a US military presence there as a backstop to the Iraqi government might actually lead to greater stability in the region, given that Iraq was mostly restabilized.

          • Kevin

            Iraq was lead by a sectarian Shia coalition that was alienating Sunni’s and driving them to oppose the government. This same government opposed the continued presence of US troops. Given that Obama opposed the war in the first place, had an agreement handed to him which removed all US troops why would he fight to keep troops in the country? If the American people wanted to remain in Iraq after bush they would have elected John McCain.

    • bannedforselfcensorship

      Obama could have accepted a SOFA not passed by Iraq’s parliament, just like he was flexible enough to negotiate a “non-treaty” with Iran that did not need passage by our Senate.

      • Kevin

        See above dude. Full disclosure I had hoped Obama would keep troops in Iraq but he chose not to because he opposed the war and our presence there.

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