During a visit to Afghanistan, Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, a Republican, stressed that no American forces would remain in the country without a bilateral security agreement, but also said Obama should not wait for that to give an idea of what the US presence would look like after the Nato-led combat mission ends at the end of this year.Which makes perfect sense. Just because Afghanistan hasn't signed an agreement on a continuing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan shouldn't stop the U.S. from announcing the levels of its continuing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan. The U.S. doesn't need the permission or input of other countries when basing its troops on their land. The U.S. is exceptional, and can do what it wants!
"I believe that it is time for our president to do this so that the people of Afghanistan understand that we remain committed in Afghanistan," Ayotte said, stressing that any post-2014 force would be contingent on the pact being signed. "He can no longer delay this decision."
The top commander of US and international forces in Afghanistan, General Joseph Dunford, testified at a Senate armed services committee hearing last week that he would feel comfortable with a residual international force of between 8,000 and 12,000 troops if the deal is signed. He said the US would provide two-thirds of those troops and would keep an additional few thousand forces in Afghanistan to conduct counterterrorism operations.Bin Laden is dead. Al Qaeda has moved on. After all these years, the Afghan government remains a corrupt mess, the Afghan military presumably remains incapable of defending the Afghan government, the Afghan economy remains a work not even necessarily in progress, and Afghan human rights are not improving.
Someone needs to explain what the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan has accomplished, since the last surge. Someone needs to explain what a continuing U.S. military presence in Afghanistan would accomplish. Someone needs to explain the end game, and what the markers would be indicating that the U.S. military can leave. Someone needs to explain when that would be. Someone needs to explain how much it would all cost. In money, and lives.