No Deadline For Afghanistan Withdrawal
Sec. of Defense Robert Gates and Sec. of State Hillary Clinton told Bob Schieffer there is no absolute deadline to pull troops out of Afghanistan. Gates and Clinton do their best to spin. The fact is President Barack Obama said troops will start pulling out in July of 2011.
But taken together, these additional American and international troops will allow us to accelerate handing over responsibility to Afghan forces, and allow us to begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq, we will execute this transition responsibly, taking into account conditions on the ground. We'll continue to advise and assist Afghanistan's security forces to ensure that they can succeed over the long haul. But it will be clear to the Afghan government -- and, more importantly, to the Afghan people -- that they will ultimately be responsible for their own country.
White House Press Sec. Robert Gibbs told CBS News Chip Reid the july 2001 deadline was locked in. Troops would be coming home at the deadline. Clinton and Gates are publicly stating there is no guarantee of U.S. military personal coming back at that time.
SCHIEFFER: But Mr. Secretary, is there a deadline or is there not?
GATES: There isn’t a deadline. What we have is a specific date on which we will begin transferring responsibility for security district by district, province by province in Afghanistan to the Afghans. The process of that and the subsequent thinning of our forces will take place over a period of time and will happen and will be done based on conditions on the ground. And the decision on that will be made by our commanders in the field.
Clinton told Schieffer troops will come home based "on conditions on the ground."
SCHIEFFER: But does that mean, Madame Secretary, that American forces will still be there as we start… That they’re not going to start bringing the troops home? That we’ll just begin handing over responsibility?
CLINTON: No, it means that as we assess the conditions on the ground we will be transferring responsibility to the Afghans. And depending on the assessment at the time, that means some of our troops can begin coming home. I think that…
SCHIEFFER: Can begin coming home?
CLINTON: Absolutely, can begin coming home.
SCHIEFFER: But not will begin coming home?
The Obama administration is starting to sound like the Bush administration. I have been hawkish on Afghanistan and was hoping for an increase in Special Forces missions into Pakistan to hunt down al-Qaeda. There is no talk about capturing or killing Osama bin Laden or destroying al-Qaeda in their Pakistan hiding places. (Or wherever the hell they are.) Obama is esculating a war with a fantasy of President Karzai's corrupt government being able to create military and police forces. Karzai wants America in Afghanistan forever. The moment America leaves his corrupt regime will leave.
Obama is playing centrist politics with Afghanistan. He doesn't want to be accused of being weak by Republicans. Obama also wants to keep the anti-war Democratic base happy with a deadline. The only thing Obama has successfully done is piss off both sides. This is cynical politics at it's worse.