President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan yesterday, on the one year anniversary of the removal of Osama bin Laden from the realm of the living. He reaffirmed the committment of the U.S. to leave the country by 2014, and not have any permanent bases. He surprised us a bit with a committment to have a small "training" and "tactical" force there until 2024
The new long-term partnership agreement governs the United States' role in Afghanistan for 10 years after NATO-led combat forces leave in 2014. It envisions that some American troops will remain after that date to train Afghan security forces and carry out counterterrorism strikes. NATO leaders are scheduled to be in Chicago in late May for a summit during which they are expected to spell out how the alliance's troops will hand over security duties to Afghan security forces throughout 2013.
Of course - not everyone is happy with this
(I don't think I am myself):
"The agreement actually allows for sustaining a 'post-conflict' force of 20,000 to 30,000 troops for a continued training of indigenous forces," said Jacob George, a veteran and now anti-war activist quoted by IPS. "They are pretending this is something new, but it's not. That's what I was doing in 2001 -- and 2002, 2003 and 2004. This is just disastrous, for ten years, with the greatest military the world has ever seen, we've been unable to defeat people with RPGs. And a year after Bin Laden was killed, we're still planning to keep tens of thousands of troops there."
As TriSec noted in his blog
yesterday, we've lost nearly 2000 soldiers there over the past 10 years, as well as $1.3T (that's Trillion, with a "T"). There are Taliban fighters there now who were just kids when this started, and babes in arms right now will be training to be Taliban fighters in 2024. This is a war that cannot be won unless every last extremist is killed. Even then, who knows? In the U.S. deep south, there are still people who would be happy to restart the Civil War.
The Taliban themselves have indicated that since the weather is nice, they'll be rolling out their Spring Offensive
. As if to punctuate that, they bombed Kabul yesterday in response to President Obama's visit
Taliban bombers attacked a heavily fortified guesthouse used by Westerners in Kabul on Wednesday, announcing the start of their annual “spring offensive” in defiance of assertions from US President Barack Obama during a visit to Afghanistan that the war was ending.
Seven people were killed after attackers dressed in burqas detonated a suicide car bomb and clashed with guards at the “Green Village” complex of guesthouses used by the European Union, the United Nations and aid groups, officials said.
The attackers’ ability to penetrate a tightened security cordon in the capital raises fresh concern about the resilience of the insurgency on the anniversary of Osama bin Laden’s death as NATO winds down its combat presence in the next two years and hands over responsibility for security to Afghan forces.
Beyond the disheartening reality that we will be maintaining some sort of troop presence there for another 12 years, there's also the Obama-hating rhetoric from the right-wing noise machine who think the timing of his visit there is inappropriate. The double-talker himself tried to have it both ways
Republican Mitt Romney praised President Barack Obama on Tuesday for taking out Osama bin Laden and said he would have done the same, but that it was “inappropriate” for the US leader to politicize the mission.
Romney, his party’s presumptive nominee in the presidential race, made his comments as he visited a fire house in Manhattan that lost 11 first responders to the 9/11 attacks of 2001.
Yes - Romney criticized Obama for "politicizing" the death of bin Laden at the same moment he was making a campaign stop in NYC
- to commemorate the death of bin Laden
. AND - he did it at a firehouse with Rudy "9/11" Giuliani. The hypocrisy is astounding (never mind that Romney had previously stated
that killing bin Laden was too expensive to bother with).
Considering the expense already involved in our forays into the Middle East, the extra money involved in taking out the spiritual figurehead of the group who started us down this bloody path was well-spent to bring some closure, and allow us to move forward with winding down these wars. I do hope the news organizations that report on the wars for us keep us abreast of the status of the troop withdrawals.
I also hope those who return get the mental, medical, and financial care they deserve. That deserves vigilance within the press as well.