Afghanistan: War Without End?

The Guardian

Obama promised no open-ended occupation – and to draw down forces from July. A 2.5% cut is hardly an encouraging start

General David Petraeus, commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, greets Robert Gates

General David Petraeus, commander of US and Nato forces in Afghanistan, greets US defence secretary Robert Gates upon his arrival in Kabul, March 2011. Photograph: Pool/Reuters

Afghanistan was supposed to be the campaign promise that President Barack Obama actually kept. He said he would escalate that war, and sure enough he did. Is he now going back on promises he’s made as president, by proposing to withdraw 2.5% of US forces in July?

Here are the relevant promises:

“After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home … [O]ur troop commitment in Afghanistan cannot be open-ended – because the nation that I’m most interested in building is our own.” – President Barack Obama, 1 December 2009

“I’m confident that the withdrawal will be significant. People will say this is a real process of transition; this is not just a token gesture.” – President Barack Obama, 15 April 2011

“In July of 2011, you’re going to see a whole lot of people moving out, bet on it.” – Vice President Joe Biden, quoted in Jonathan Alter’s The Promise

But let’s first review how we got here. When loyal Democrats heard candidate Obama say he would escalate the war as president, they mistakenly understood him to say he would end it. Progressive bloggers have planned a panel for next month to discuss their disappointment with this “broken promise” that was actually kept.

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