Change: White House backing off July 2011 date for Afghanistan drawdown

posted at 6:08 pm on November 10, 2010 by Allahpundit

You have to read carefully to recognize the change in policy here, but it’s a doozy. From the very beginning of The One’s surge last year, July 2011 has been held out as a set-in-stone date on which withdrawal will begin. Even at the time, they were playing games with that: The date was fixed but the number of troops to be withdrawn was conditions-based, so in theory Obama could keep his pledge by pulling out 50,000 troops next summer — or, if need be, just one platoon. As White House spokesman Tommy Vietor is quick to point out to McClatchy, the July 2011 date remains fixed. But clearly, while they were hoping for a big drawdown, the number of troops leaving is now going to be closer to platoon scale than to 50,000.

Another three years.

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…

Another official said the administration also realized in contacts with Pakistani officials that the Pakistanis had concluded wrongly that July 2011 would mark the beginning of the end of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan.

That perception, one Pentagon adviser said, has convinced Pakistan’s military — which is key to preventing Taliban sympathizers from infiltrating Afghanistan — to continue to press for a political settlement instead of military action [against jihadis in the tribal areas].

In other words, after a year of hawks screaming at them that telegraphing a major withdrawal next year will only encourage the Taliban and their Pakistani sugar daddy to hold out and play for time, the White House has realized … yeah, they’re holding out and playing for time. New plan, then: Try to appease doves by insisting that everyone will be out by 2014 while communicating to jihadis that they’d better be ready to get pounded for four more years — unless they come to the bargaining table soon. I wrote a few weeks ago about Petraeus’s new shoot-and-talk strategy, aimed at bludgeoning the Taliban until they beg for mercy and demand a peace deal, and it’s only intensified since then. Danger Room notes today that NATO executed more than 1,000 airstrikes inside Afghanistan last month, and the White House is pushing to expand the CIA’s role in the tribal areas of Pakistan, possibly involving the use of paramilitary forces. Whether it’s working or not is completely unclear to me, though, given how media reports tend to conflict. On the one hand, we hear that U.S. troops are kicking ass and taking names, on the other hand we hear that they haven’t made much headway. On the one hand, we hear that talks between Karzai and the Taliban are under way and that Pakistan urgently wants a place at the table, on the other hand we hear that they’re nonsense or basically insignificant. Clearly there are some talks going on and clearly Karzai and NATO would like to see something meaningful come from them — and just as clearly, there’s no reason to believe that the Taliban would honor any promises made. Which, I guess, is why Petraeus is so eager to hammer them into submission soon notwithstanding the new three-year timeline: If they can strike a deal quickly, with U.S. troops guaranteed to remain in the field until 2014 to keep an eye on the Taliban while they adjust to “peace,” maybe the inertia of stability will make jihadis less likely to revolt once we’re gone.

McClatchy notes that having the GOP take back the House will help Obama here since they’re less likely to pressure him on withdrawal, but of course it also means the smaller, more liberal Democratic caucus is now off the hook for defense spending and can start shrieking in earnest about pulling out. Between that and the fact that he’s now asking them to gag on a new three-year deadline, he’s going to catch hell from his base. Yet another reason to think that the mythical primary challenge might yet materalize?


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Comments

No blood for Lithium!!!!

Down with the evil Neo-Dems! /

sharrukin on November 10, 2010 at 6:11 PM

You are being too gracious. This is retribution towards the “Professional Left” for not showing up for the mid-terms. If they’d “played ball,” this post never occurs.

VastRightWingConspirator on November 10, 2010 at 6:13 PM

Another promise with an expiration date.

csdeven on November 10, 2010 at 6:13 PM

Who’d ‘a thunk????

OmahaConservative on November 10, 2010 at 6:14 PM

Code Pink better get everything out of storage. And Cindy Sheehan dust off her Maureen Dowd issued “absolute moral authority for life” card.

Marcus on November 10, 2010 at 6:15 PM

Present.

Vashta.Nerada on November 10, 2010 at 6:16 PM

Ooh, ooh – the professional Left is not going to be happy.

katiejane on November 10, 2010 at 6:17 PM

What was that saying…every one of Obama’s promises comes with an expiration date…

right2bright on November 10, 2010 at 6:18 PM

October 18, 2010:

Right now, the U.S. war plan approved by President Barack Obama extends through 2014, the official said. That is the official document that spells out matters such as troop rotation schedules.

amerpundit on November 10, 2010 at 6:18 PM

the White House has realized … yeah, they’re holding out and playing for time.

D’oh!

cmsinaz on November 10, 2010 at 6:19 PM

sharrukin,
I almost forgot about that.

rob verdi on November 10, 2010 at 6:20 PM

hey dear leader, get a clue…there is no appeasing of the doves…

cmsinaz on November 10, 2010 at 6:20 PM

William R. Polk over on The American Spectator paints an unflattering picture.

Skandia Recluse on November 10, 2010 at 6:22 PM

It’s a good thing that our Commander in Chief is interested in winning this war…

… Oh, wait!

Seven Percent Solution on November 10, 2010 at 6:23 PM

Here is a site for all you Lt. Dan Band fans out there to consider if you’re in the S.W. this weekend, though it may be a tad late for tickets.

We must keep up the support for these sacrificing citizens.

OkieDoc on November 10, 2010 at 6:24 PM

Seven Percent Solution on November 10, 2010 at 6:23 PM

*sigh*

one is at the point to whether laugh or cry

cmsinaz on November 10, 2010 at 6:33 PM

If you read the regions history you will know any time line is moot. Wash our hands of this.

carti3r on November 10, 2010 at 6:34 PM

cmsinaz on November 10, 2010 at 6:33 PM

Being a “Proud Army Mom” of 3…..I’m crying. :((

tencole on November 10, 2010 at 6:42 PM

tencole on November 10, 2010 at 6:42 PM

thank you!

cmsinaz on November 10, 2010 at 6:47 PM

Why can’t we leave both Iraq and Afghanistan?

Are there still some Christians left in the Middle East or something?

There is nothing remotely “conservative” about war. War is pro-government, pro-despot, pro-collectivist, pro-revolutionary, pro-inflation, anti-society, and anti-Christian. Nation-building is pro-central planning and utopian. Nation-building is the very definition of “to immanentize the eschaton.”

Today, thanks to the blind support of a war that allowed American blood to be shed to build an Islamic State, Christians are being eradicated to make the Middle East wholly Islamic for the first time in history.

How will this lead to peace with the West?

Rae on November 10, 2010 at 6:58 PM

More wasted American Blood and Treasure on fracken POS Muslim Afcrapistan.

Luka on November 10, 2010 at 7:00 PM

Which, I guess, is why Petraeus is so eager to hammer them into submission soon notwithstanding the new three-year timeline

Imam Petraeus with his almost Code Pink ROE is now the Hammer? You have got to be kidding.

Luka on November 10, 2010 at 7:03 PM

Our current crop of 3 and 4 stars are a disgrace to their nation, their oath of office, their troops and their troops families. George S. Patton would slap them to Kingdom Come. Our Nation is rotting from it’s own Army down.

Luka on November 10, 2010 at 7:07 PM

Nation building in Afghanistan will fail, and it won’t be our fault, but that of the people there. There isn’t enough of a foundation to build a nation on. You need and economy, the rule of law, private property rights, a banking system, a legal system and a functioning government that is not corrupt. It also helps if your infrastructure does not resemble that of the old testament. We should reduce our footprint, keep killing the bad guys, but forget the rest.

It isn’t worth the men, time and money to stay another 5-10 years only to end up with an Islamic state that hates us, and that is the BEST we can hope for at this point.

echosyst on November 10, 2010 at 7:41 PM

*facepalm*

And here I thought this administration might actually keep ONE of their promises that MIGHT benefit America! Silly me!

It appears whoever wins in 2012 will have to make the inevitable decision that neither Bush nor Obama had the spine to make. Pray that this is true, or our troops will have to spend even longer attempting to ‘nation-build’ on a foundation of blood-stained quicksand. And our attempts to buy them off with (yet another) theocratic puppet government will inevitably end in failure. AGAIN.

Afghanistan and Iraq are as compatible with modern democratic governments as an Atari 2600 is with Halo; they don’t ‘understand’ what we’re trying to install because they CAN’T! It is a delusion to think that a bunch of backwards people stuck in the Bronze Age will stop killing each other on an American timeline when they’ve been going at it for centuries. For a comparison, imagine if the Mayflower had tried to found a colony with a load of murderers and pickpockets. It wouldn’t have worked!

Dark-Star on November 10, 2010 at 8:04 PM

For a comparison, imagine if the Mayflower had tried to found a colony with a load of murderers and pickpockets. It wouldn’t have worked!

Dark-Star on November 10, 2010 at 8:04 PM

You must be an OZ.

OkieDoc on November 10, 2010 at 8:57 PM

*sigh*

one is at the point to whether laugh or cry

cmsinaz on November 10, 2010 at 6:33 PM

Makes me want to throw up…

Seven Percent Solution on November 10, 2010 at 10:04 PM

You must be an OZ.

OkieDoc on November 10, 2010 at 8:57 PM

You don’t have to be a wizard to know that you can’t found a nation based on individual freedom and religious liberty with a people-group to which such concepts have been unknown for hundreds of years.

Dark-Star on November 10, 2010 at 10:16 PM

Sorry for the misunderstanding.
I was specifically drawn to this-

For a comparison, imagine if the Mayflower had tried to found a colony with a load of murderers and pickpockets. It wouldn’t have worked!
Dark-Star on November 10, 2010 at 8:04 PM

Now, OZ meant Aussie. As in the founding of Australia, the continent. And, yes, you must be a wizard to discern this.

OkieDoc on November 11, 2010 at 12:22 AM