Remember that extensive review of U.S. Afghanistan policy that's supposed to be coming next month? It apparently won't be so extensive if the military sources McClatchy reporter Nancy A. Youssef has been talking to are right.
Remember those troops that the Obama administration stressed last December are going to start coming out of Afghanistan next July? That deadline is no longer being stressed.
Remember that December 2011 deadline for having all U.S. troops out of Iraq? All the troops may not be out by then, according to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
The Obama administration has decided to begin publicly walking away from what it once touted as key deadlines in the war in Afghanistan in an effort to de-emphasize President Barack Obama's pledge that he'd begin withdrawing U.S. forces in July 2011, administration and military officials have told McClatchy.
The new policy will be on display next week during a conference of NATO countries in Lisbon, Portugal, where the administration hopes to introduce a timeline that calls for the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from Afghanistan by 2014, the year when Afghan President Hamid Karzai once said Afghan troops could provide their own security, three senior officials told McClatchy, along with others speaking anonymously as a matter of policy. ...
What a year ago had been touted as an extensive December review of the strategy now also will be less expansive and will offer no major changes in strategy, the officials told McClatchy. ...
On Tuesday, a White House official who spoke with reporters in a conference call arranged to discuss the December review, said the administration might withdraw some troops next July and may hand some communities over to Afghan authorities. But he said a withdrawal from Afghanistan could take "years," depending on the capability of the Afghan national security forces.
According to the sources, the choice of de-emphasizing the July deadline was made in part because of what they said is a perception among Pakistani officials that 2011 would mark the beginning of the end of U.S. military action in Afghanistan. This perception has led Pakistan's military to seek a political settlement with the Taliban and reduce its pressure on Taliban infiltrators into Afghanistan.
The midterm election losses that put Republicans in charge of the House of Representatives has also reduced pressure on the administration to begin an early withdrawal. The incoming chairman of the Armed Services Committee, Buck McKeon of California, opposes the deadline. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said this week in a press conference in Melbourne, Australia, that U.S. troops would be in Afghanistan a long time, and that a U.S. presence would remain long "after most of our troops are gone."
That presence will definitely have to be there a long time if policies such as the one which sends out killer-drones keeps taking the lives of innocent civilians. As Johann Hari wrote last month at the Independent:
Is the same thing happening in Pakistan? David Kilcullen is a counter-insurgency expert who worked for General Petraeus in Iraq and now advises the State Department. He has shown that two per cent of the people killed by the robot-planes in Pakistan are jihadis. The remaining 98 per cent are as innocent as the victims of 9/11. He says: "It's not moral." And it gets worse: "Every one of these dead non-combatants represents an alienated family, and more recruits for a militant movement that has grown exponentially as drone strikes have increased."
Professor of Middle Eastern history Juan Cole puts it more bluntly: "When you bomb people and kill their family, it pisses them off. They form lifelong grudges... This is not rocket science. If they were not sympathetic to the Taliban and al-Qa'ida before, after you bomb the shit out of them, they will be.
Creating more radical jihadists increases the perceived "need" for keeping a long-term U.S. presence in the region to kill those new jihadists. The killing of the bystanders around them turns kin and friends into yet more jihadists. Outcome: A never-ending vicious circle tailor-made for the war hawks and their pals in the military-industrial-congressional complex. A fresh flow of jihadists. A fresh flow of cash. Bolstering this is a Congress (on both sides of the aisle) unwilling to object to the puerile rationale that has sent 60,000 fresh U.S. troops into Afghanistan since the Obama administration took over the war it inherited.
Meanwhile, Secretary Gates said in a meeting with Malaysian defense officials that the Baghdad government might ask Washington to extend the stay of U.S. troops in Iraq. Those troops are supposed to be home by Christmas 2011. Of course, if the Iraqi government asks them to stay, it would be downright rude to leave, eh? But first there has to be a government in Iraq to do the asking.
The neo-conservatives are in retreat, but the empire lives on.
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