Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Obama Considers Faster Pullout in Afghanistan

As regular readers know, I have been a constant critic of America's fool's errand in Afghanistan first launched and then utterly botched by Chimperator Bush and Emperor Palpatine Cheney.  Anyone with knowledge of Afghanistan's history over the last 2,500 years should have known that pacifying the country and "nation building" were doomed to fail.  Despite this reality, thousands of young Americans have lost their lives (others have suffered serious wounds) for nothing and America has squandered huge sums of money that could have been better used rebuilding America's infrastructure.  Now, Barack Obama is considering an accelerated withdrawal  of all troops from that benighted basket case of a nation.  The New York Times has details.  Here are excerpts:

Increasingly frustrated by his dealings with President Hamid Karzai, President Obama is giving serious consideration to speeding up the withdrawal of United States forces from Afghanistan and to a “zero option” that would leave no American troops there after next year, according to American and European officials. 

Mr. Obama is committed to ending America’s military involvement in Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and Obama administration officials have been negotiating with Afghan officials about leaving a small “residual force” behind. But 

Mr. Karzai promptly repudiated the talks and ended negotiations with the United States over the long-term security deal that is needed to keep American forces in Afghanistan after 2014. 

A videoconference between Mr. Obama and Mr. Karzai designed to defuse the tensions ended badly, according to both American and Afghan officials with knowledge of it. Mr. Karzai, according to those sources, accused the United States of trying to negotiate a separate peace with both the Taliban and their backers in Pakistan, leaving Afghanistan’s fragile government exposed to its enemies.

The option of leaving no troops in Afghanistan after 2014 was gaining momentum before the June 27 video conference, according to the officials. But since then, the idea of a complete military exit similar to the American military pullout from Iraq has gone from being considered the worst-case scenario — and a useful negotiating tool with Mr. Karzai — to an alternative under serious consideration in Washington and Kabul.

American commanders in Afghanistan have generally pushed to keep as many American troops in the country as long as possible, creating friction with White House officials urging a speedier military withdrawal.   . . . .  with American relations with the Karzai government continuing to deteriorate, it is unclear whether the Pentagon and American commanders in Afghanistan would vigorously resist if the White House pushed for a full-scale pullout months ahead of schedule.

As it stands, the number of American troops in Afghanistan — around 63,000 — is scheduled to go down to 34,000 by February 2014. The White House has said the vast majority of troops would be out of Afghanistan by the end of that year, although it now appears that the schedule could accelerate to bring the bulk of the troops — if not all of them — home by next summer, as the annual fighting season winds down. 

And Afghanistan would probably see far less than the roughly $8 billion in annual military and civilian aid it is expecting in the coming years — an amount that covers more than half the government’s annual spending. 

Note how military leaders want more time and high troop levels despite the fact that virtually nothing permanent has been accomplished.  When my son-in-law was seriously wounded, he had to wait to fly out of the largest American airbase because it was too dangerous for aircraft to take off due to Taliban anti-aircraft fire.  This speaks volumes about how little has ever been accomplished.

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