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Ear to the Ground

Pentagon Calls 2014 Afghanistan Withdrawal ‘Aspirational’

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Posted on Nov 19, 2010
U.S. Marine Corps / Chief Warrant Officer 3 Philippe E. Chasse

Hamid Karzai and NATO would like Afghan forces to take over the country’s security by 2014, a goal Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell calls “aspirational,” as in “There may very well be the need for forces to remain in-country, albeit, hopefully, at smaller numbers, to assist the Afghans as they assume lead responsibility for the security of their country.”

And what about the July 2011 withdrawal deadline promised by President Obama?

Morrell explains:

I’ve seen some of these stories that have sort of suggested that there is an inherent contradiction between July 2011 and the—and the end of 2014. And I think we have always seen these as very much linked and consistent that you would, as the president articulated nearly a year ago, begin the gradual withdrawal of U.S. forces come July 2011, based upon conditions on the ground, and then, hopefully, move the Afghans into increasing responsibility for their security.

And don’t even ask the Pentagon flack, as one reporter did, how many troops we can expect to have deployed in 2015 (2015!). That’s what Donald Rumsfeld might call a known unknown:

I think it’s entirely unknowable at this point. I don’t think anybody could tell you with any credence what the force posture will be four years from now. It’s just impossible to know. It just depends. Like, we don’t know, for example—here we are nine months out—less than that; eight months, seven months out from the July 2011 date, and the conditions on the ground are not known to us now about—you know, for July 2011. So we can’t even tell you, for example, how many forces we estimate will be coming out or reinvested come July 2011, let alone, you know, four years from now.

Full transcript of the Pentagon briefing here. More from CNN and Reuters—PZS

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By john, November 20, 2010 at 5:01 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

anything it doesn’t want to do becomes “aspirational” on the other hand, anything it wants to do is a forgone conclusion.

here’s a collapsing empire for you

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By aacme88, November 20, 2010 at 6:32 am Link to this comment

Withdrawal by 2014 sounds delusional to me. This started in 2003. This war needs to stop now. The only way the Taliban could take control of a country that’s been at war since ...when? The Middle Ages? Though it’s still the Middle Ages there. The only way is with the acquiescence of the people. War is normal life for them. They will fight the Taliban if they don’t want them, as they fought us, as they fought the Russians, as they have always fought. Time to go. We have another country to save. Ours.

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By MisterKeitel, November 19, 2010 at 8:38 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Robert- I don’t know what to do.  I voted for Nader in 2000.  I’m still glad I did.  I
really don’t know if Gore would have been any better than Bush.  Would 9/11 still
have happened.  Would a Democrat in the White House still have found a way to
get America involved in multiple wars in the Middle East.  I mean with Peak Oil on
the horizon I’m thinking the Big Shots would sleep much easier if we had some
concrete superbases and tens of thousands of troops over there.  Is Third Party the
way?  Revolution?  What?

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By gerard, November 19, 2010 at 7:35 pm Link to this comment

A note from Afghanistan (“Peace Meals” by Anna Badkhen)”
  “In Lolaguzar, a xeric camp where the wind sculpted sandcastles out of dust inside the refugees’ haphazard lean-tos and dugouts, a young woman named Zulfiya told me about fleeing her home the day the Taliban had press-ganged her husband into the army.  Zulfiya had four children.  With her husband gone, and with no male family members around to protect her, she had feared that Taliban fighters would rape her, so she had grabbed her chldren and walked for six days to Lolaguzar.  She had clutched her infant son, Yakobullah, to her chest the whole way.  When she was leaving her house, Sulfiya had only had the time to dress her five-year-old daughter, Shiuriya;  her three small sons had gone naked.  Now they wore misshapen rugs someone had given them.  Half a mile away, past the skeleton of an unmanned armored personnel carrier and an old Soviet tank that guarded the entrance to the camp, the Pyandzh River, the only source of drinking water, bored muddily through the desert, spreading malaria in the summer, tuberculosis in the winter, and dysentery at all times of the year.  Zulfiya’s new home was a ripped piece of canvas thrown on the dusty ground beneath a dirty sheet of blue plastic propped up on sticks. . . .”

Happy Thanksgiving—if you have the stomach for it.

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By FRTothus, November 19, 2010 at 6:10 pm Link to this comment

About as “aspirational” as expecting the US government to behave honorably, or the President to uphold the law, or pursue peace.

What I’d like to know is who, exactly, is the US preparing these Afghani troops to defend themselves from.  It cannot possibly be the only country that has violated and continues to violate international law and Afghani sovereignty, the same country that invaded and occupies, that restored the heroin and opium trade, and commits torture on a daily basis, and deigns itself the right to cowardly kill suspects and women and children by remote control.

I’m reminded of what Gandhi said when asked by a British reporter on the occasion of Gandhi’s first visit to England how he (Gandhi) felt about Western Civilization.

Gandhi’s response:  “I think it would be a good idea.”

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de profundis clamavi's avatar

By de profundis clamavi, November 19, 2010 at 3:59 pm Link to this comment

I guess I’m giving away my age, but this all sounds like “Vietnamization” to me.

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