If his lips are moving, he’s probably lying: Obama goes back on campaign promise to remove all U.S. troops from Afghanistan

Afghanistan Troop Withdrawal

“We are bringing our troops home from Afghanistan. And I’ve set a timetable. We will have them all out of there by 2014.”

President Obama spoke these words at a campaign stop in Boulder, Colorado, just a few weeks before the 2012 Presidential election. Taking a swipe at Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who didn’t have a timetable for troop withdrawal, Obama warned, “That’s what’s at stake in this election.”

Nearly two years later, President Obama has decided to keep nearly 10,000 American soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan past the initial 2014 deadline, the Associated Press reports:

The two-year plan is contingent on the Afghan government signing a bilateral security agreement with the U.S. While current Afghan President Hamid Karzai has declined to sign the agreement, U.S. officials are confident that either of the candidates seeking to replace him would give his approval.

The plan calls for the U.S. military to draw down from its current force of 32,000 to 9,800 by the start of next year. Those troops would be dispatched throughout Afghanistan and focus on counterterrorism missions and training Afghan security forces. They would not be engaged in combat missions.

Over the course of next year, the number of troops would be cut in half and consolidated in the capital of Kabul and at Bagram Air Field, the main U.S. base in Afghanistan. Those remaining forces would largely be withdrawn by the end of 2016, with fewer than 1,000 remaining behind to staff a security office in Kabul.

The American forces would likely be bolstered by a few thousand NATO troops. The total NATO presence, including U.S. troops, is expected to be around 12,000 at the start of next year.

This isn’t President Obama’s only broken promise, but it is one with dramatic implications. Americans are increasingly war-weary and war-wary. This angst peaked when Congress and the President considered military action in Syria last year.

Always one to beat the drum of perpetual war, Bill Kristol panned the notion that Americans are tired of war in a recent edition of the Weekly Standard.

President Obama was supposed to meet with Afghan President Hamid Karzai in a surprise visit to Afghanistan over the weekend, but the meeting never took place. Obama did communicate with him via phone from Air Force One.

More from the AP report:

After Karzai refused to sign the bilateral security agreement, Obama asked the Pentagon to plan for the possibility that all American forces would withdraw by a year-end 2014 deadline. But given the supportive comments of the candidates in Afghanistan’s presidential election, Obama signaled during his holiday weekend trip to Bagram that he was likely to keep some American troops in the country.

“After all the sacrifices we’ve made, we want to preserve the gains that you have helped to win, and we’re going to make sure that Afghanistan can never again, ever, be used again to launch an attack against our country,” Obama declared.

The war in Afghanistan is our nation’s longest war, and more than 2,100 Americans have lost their lives in the conflict.


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