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View Diary: Obama Cancels 'Begin to Withdraw' Promise, Peace No, Petraeus (81 comments)

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  •  Complete answer on 'begin to withdraw July 2011' (0+ / 0-)

    Look at this almost filibuster honestly: Obama is saying the current plan is subject to revision in consultation with Petraeus. To me that's breaking a hard-and-fast promise to begin withdrawal July 2011:

    June 24, 2010
    Joint Press Conf. With Presidents Medvedev & Obama
    By The White House
    2:07 P.M. EDT

    . . .

    Q Thank you, Mr. President. Does the change in command in Afghanistan change your timetable for withdrawal? Is there likely to be any disruption, particularly given Secretary Gates seemed to contradict Vice President Biden's comments that you can bet on a large number of troops withdrawing in July of 2011? So are you confident that everyone on your team is on the same page when it comes to your plan? Do you expect anyone else to leave?

    And if I may, to President Medvedev, given your country's history and experience in Afghanistan, and your ability to talk candidly with President Obama, have you offered him any advice on the Afghan war? And do you believe that a foreign country can win in Afghanistan?

    Thank you.

    PRESIDENT OBAMA: The short answer is that what we saw yesterday was a change in personnel but not a change in policy. Let me flesh that out.

    When we engaged in an extensive review last year, General Petraeus was part of a group that included Secretaries Gates, Clinton, my national security team, that discussed extensively what our various options were in Afghanistan. And what was determined was, number one, that we had to be very clear on our mission.

    Our mission, first and foremost, is to dismantle and destroy al Qaeda and its affiliates so that they can't attack the United States. The reason we're there in the first place is because 3,000 Americans were killed from an attack launched in that region. We are not going to have that repeated.

    In order to achieve that, we have to make sure that we have a stable Afghan government, and we also have to make sure that we've got a Pakistani government that is working effectively with us to dismantle these networks.

    What we then said was we would put in additional troops to provide the time and the space for the Afghan government to build up its security capacities, to clear and hold population centers that are critical, to drive back the Taliban, to break their momentum, and that beginning next year we would begin a transition phase in which the Afghan government is taking more and more responsibility for its own security.

    Here's what we did not say last year. We did not say that starting July 2011, suddenly there would be no troops from the United States or allied countries in Afghanistan. We didn't say we'd be switching off the lights and closing the door behind us. What we said is we'd begin a transition phase in which the Afghan government is taking on more and more responsibility.

    That is the strategy that was put forward. What we've also said is, is that in December of this year, a year after this strategy has been put in place, at a time when the additional troops have been in place and have begun implementing strategy, that we'll conduct a review and we'll make an assessment: Is the strategy working? Is it working in part? Are there other aspects of it that aren't working? How is the coordination between civilian and military? Are we doing enough to build Afghan security capacity? How are we working effectively with our allies?

    So we are in the midpoint of implementing the strategy that we came up with last year. We'll do a review at the end of this year. General Petraeus understands that strategy because he helped shape it. And my expectation is that he will be outstanding in implementing it, and we will not miss a beat because of the change in command in the Afghan theater.

    Keep in mind that during this entire time, General Petraeus has been the CENTCOM commander, which means he's had responsibility in part for overseeing what happened in Afghanistan. And that is part of the reason why I think he's going to do such a capable job. Not only does he have extraordinary experience in Iraq, not only did he help write the manual for dealing with insurgencies, but he also is intimately familiar with the players. He knows President Karzai. He knows the other personnel who are already on the ground.

    So our team is going to be moving forward in sync. It is true that I am going to be insisting on a unity of purpose on the part of all branches of the U.S. government that reflects the enormous sacrifices that are being made by the young men and women who are there.

    Every time I go to Walter Reed, when I visited Afghanistan and I visited the hospitals, and you see young men and women who are giving their all, making enormous sacrifices on behalf of the security of this nation, my expectation is, is that the leadership is true to those sacrifices; that the strategy that we're promoting, the manner in which we are working together at the leadership level fully reflects and honors the incredible dedication of our young men and women on the ground.

    That's what I expect, and I believe that is what I will receive.

    Was there one last aspect to the question?

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