Report: Obama to announce drawdown plans for Afghanistan on Wednesday

posted at 7:25 pm on June 20, 2011 by Allahpundit

So says WaPo, while offering no predictions on troop levels. Word on the street via the Standard, though, is that the pace of withdrawal will be a tad quicker than the Pentagon might like:

The president has apparently rejected his vice president’s recommendation that the U.S. move simply to counter-terrorism efforts and abandon the full civil-military counter-insurgency mission in Afghanistan. THE WEEKLY STANDARD has further been told that Obama’s drawdown could be as large as ten thousand troops this summer, another ten thousand early or mid-next year, and the rest of the surge forces by the end of 2012.

It therefore appears the president will ask U.S. troops to assume more risk—and will put the mission at greater risk—than General David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates thought wise, by ordering a larger and quicker drawdown than they recommended.

What sort of withdrawal is Petraeus comfortable with? According to Marc Ambinder, rather than lose 10,000 men ASAP, he wants 5,000 troops gone by year’s end and then another 5,000 by next spring. As of six weeks ago, though, military officers in Afghanistan were reportedly aiming for a brisker drawdown — not quite as brisk as The One’s plan (assuming the Standard’s numbers are correct), but speedier than Petraeus’s. From the May 10 edition of the WSJ:

U.S. military officers in Afghanistan have drawn up preliminary proposals to withdraw as many as 5,000 troops from the country in July and as many as 5,000 more by the year’s end, the first phase of a U.S. pullout promised by President Barack Obama, officials say…

The plans were drafted before the U.S. killed [Osama Bin Laden], and could be revised. They have yet to be formally presented to Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, who must then seek White House approval for a withdrawal…

Outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said bin Laden’s death could be a “game-changer” in Afghanistan. U.S. officials hope that the weakening of al Qaeda might make their Taliban allies more receptive to a negotiated settlement, though they say it could take six months or longer to know what impact bin Laden’s death will have on the fighting.

Three different actors, three different withdrawal recommendations. The officers may be looking at conditions on the ground in isolation and thinking that they’re sufficiently well positioned to spare 5,000 men up front. Petraeus may be looking instead at the slow pace of peace talks and thinking either that things are bound to get worse before they get better and/or that the more troops we have in the field, the greater our leverage at the table with the Taliban will be. The WaPo piece linked up top mentions, in fact, that “The administration had hoped to couple Obama’s announcement on troop withdrawals with news of progress on political reconciliation with Taliban leaders,” but there’s simply not enough progress to warrant mentioning. And why would there be? If the Taliban knows we’re committed to a significant withdrawal over the next two years, they’re better off waiting until the surge troops are gone and then seeing what kind of deal they can get.

As for The One, he’s looking at 2012, of course, plus an assortment of new polls confirming how war-weary the public is. The election dictated his position on debt reduction; why shouldn’t it inform the pace at which troops come home too? In fact, as the Journal notes, his original decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan was essentially a case of “splitting the difference” between the military’s proposals for 20,000 or 40,000 more. Pulling out 10,000 troops now would be a difference-splitter too, albeit of a rougher sort: Torn between doves who are angry about Libya and eager for a significant Afghan drawdown soon and hawks who want an open-ended commitment so as not to encourage the Taliban, he’ll order more troops out now than Petraeus and the officers would like but not so many as to earn any significant new cred with the anti-war faction. Just think of it as him rejecting the “false choice” between cutting our losses and committing to victory. Assuming the Standard’s inside scoop is accurate, of course.

So many possible exit questions to choose from here. One: Remember in his speech in 2009 ordering the surge when he said, “Moving forward, we are committed to a partnership with Pakistan that is built on a foundation of mutual interests, mutual respect, and mutual trust”? Two years later, he had to keep the Bin Laden raid secret from them because they’re a bunch of loose-lipped jihadist rats. Looking forward to the Pakistan progress report on Wednesday. Two: Per Ambinder’s story above, did the Bin Laden raid really not encourage Petraeus to increase the pace of withdrawal? If he was going to depart from his officers’ recommendations as of May 10, I would have guessed that he’d want to go faster, not slower. Read this fascinating NYT story from two days ago, in fact, to see how damaged Al Qaeda has been by U.S. troops and drones recently. Over the past year and a half, fully 20 of the group’s top 30 operatives in the region have been liquidated, including Bin Laden himself. Sounds like the White House is planning to use that as a prime justification for a more rapid withdrawal, even though Petraeus seems unimpressed by it. There’s the difference between a counterterror approach, bent on killing the baddest bad guys as they appear, and a counterinsurgent approach, bent on stabilizing the country so that it’s harder for bad guys to hide out there.

One other question: If the Standard is right, how will the GOP field react? One of the memes du jour, thanks to McCain’s soundbite yesterday about “isolationism,” is the extent to which Republican candidates are more dovish than the Bushian baseline. Romney famously said at the debate that he wanted the troops home ASAP — before quickly adding “as soon as our generals think it’s okay,” which presumably ties him to whatever Petraeus’s timeline is. He and the rest of them are going to end up criticizing whatever Obama does — O’s not the only one whose policy decisions are driven in part by the election, after all — but I’m curious to see how animated they are in doing so. Three years ago, they would have ripped him as a Carter-esque weakling for accelerating the drawdown beyond Petraeus’s comfort zone, and some of them surely still will. But now they have to balance the Rand Pauls in the base against the Marco Rubios, which means more timid criticism from some of them and maybe not much criticism at all from others. Can’t wait to see how it plays out.

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The Democratic Strategy hasn’t changed a bit.

Aronne on June 20, 2011 at 7:26 PM

I thought this was the Good War?

Washington Nearsider on June 20, 2011 at 7:28 PM

Still fighting in Libya though…

tetriskid on June 20, 2011 at 7:28 PM

Leading from Behind.

To all those who lost family and friends in Afgahnastan, Professor O’Barry is about to insure they died for nothing.

NickDeringer on June 20, 2011 at 7:29 PM

its about the 2012 election, no more.

rob verdi on June 20, 2011 at 7:30 PM

so he ignores everyone around him once again….

the basic MO of this administration….

cmsinaz on June 20, 2011 at 7:31 PM

rob verdi on June 20, 2011 at 7:30 PM

yepper

cmsinaz on June 20, 2011 at 7:33 PM

ten thousand troops this summer, another ten thousand early or mid-next year, and the rest of the surge forces by the end of 2012.

Call me cynical for thinking that this is part of a reelection campaign strategy more than a military one.

Scrappy on June 20, 2011 at 7:33 PM

Don’t let him distract you. The discussion is about the War Powers Act violation.

rogerb on June 20, 2011 at 7:33 PM

Don’t let him distract you. The discussion is about the War Powers Act violation.

rogerb on June 20, 2011 at 7:33 PM

this.

tetriskid on June 20, 2011 at 7:35 PM

Using politcal reasons to play with the lives of those who defend the US. Gunwalker. Afghan withdrawal.

Beyond shameless.

Wethal on June 20, 2011 at 7:35 PM

What is our end goal in Afghanistan or Iraq right now? All we seem to be doing is maintaining the status quo. Unless we start conducting massive bombing campaigns and troop assaults in areas/villages where Taliban/Al Quadea are known to be, then are we really ever going to accomplish anything more? The PC strategy to “win the hearts and minds of the locals” is never going to work. Those people are never going to like us. So we may as well kill who we need to kill so we can finish what we started. And if we aren’t going to do that, then what are we still there for?

We might be better off pulling out all the ground troops and just continuing with drone strikes and surgical special forces missions to root out the big guys.

That’s just my opinion, anyways.

KSgop on June 20, 2011 at 7:37 PM

Two years later, he had to keep the Bin Laden raid secret from them because they’re a bunch of loose-lipped jihadist rats.

Though not as bad as Joe Biden.

Hey Allah, I see you’re giving Obama credit for ordering the raid that took out Osama. Are you sure about that? Not what I heard (reminder, see infamous War Room photo with Obama dressed in golf clothes, when he was pulled in off the links to watch the raid going down).

disa on June 20, 2011 at 7:38 PM

IMPEACH!!!

Roy Rogers on June 20, 2011 at 7:38 PM

Yay! Bring the troops home!!!
(and I don’t even care what the thinking behind it is)

bridgetown on June 20, 2011 at 7:41 PM

Politically Expedient Present Dunce Puffer makes another announcement that will never come to be.

Present Dunce Puffer.

Key West Reader on June 20, 2011 at 7:44 PM

Ew! Look! Something shiny!!!

SouthernGent on June 20, 2011 at 7:45 PM

TOTUS don’t fail me now

-dear leader

cmsinaz on June 20, 2011 at 7:46 PM

Sticking your finger in the wind IS NOT foreign policy, nor is it smart power. It is self-serving hype that will result in more of our troops dead or injured, and with the Taliban forewarned of our activities. This is no way to run a lemonade stand, much less the foreign policy of the USA.

As has been stated here on HA numerous times, setting withdrawal goals, timelines, etc., only signals to our enemy that they merely need bide their time, stockpile their weapons, munitions, and other resources, and be ready to fill the coming void. With this kind of vacuous decision-making on our part, it’s inevitable.

If you’re going to do something in Af-Pak, Yemen, or where-the-hell-ever, just do it and let our enemies figure it out for themselves. Don’t announce to them our intentions regarding troop deployment/withdrawal in advance. This is pure folly that only a self-centered jerk would condone, much less implement.

Winning/////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

hillbillyjim on June 20, 2011 at 7:46 PM

Yay! Bring the troops home!!!
(and I don’t even care what the thinking behind it is)

bridgetown on June 20, 2011 at 7:41 PM

Not to worry, Barry’s in charge, there is no thinking involved. Military thinking that is.

fogw on June 20, 2011 at 7:49 PM

I would rather see one of the Generals on the ground drawing back the troops.

Between you and me? I think that Barack Obama’s Arab Spring has gone horribly wrong. And, he KNOWS that his missions have, failed.

Everything he has done. Has. Failed.

Key West Reader on June 20, 2011 at 7:54 PM

Everything he has done. Has. Failed.

Key West Reader on June 20, 2011 at 7:54 PM

amen kwr

cmsinaz on June 20, 2011 at 7:55 PM

Ew! Look! Something shiny!!!

SouthernGent on June 20, 2011 at 7:45 PM

He plays like a little boy in Taft’s bathtub.

The left’s Present Dunce.

Key West Reader on June 20, 2011 at 7:56 PM

The left is incapable of cognizent thought.

They are coming apart at the seams.

Perhaps they thought they were in Fwance, or maybe they thought that Van Jones … eh..

Heh. The Left.

Key West Reader on June 20, 2011 at 8:00 PM

This is done to gain the votes of his base, which used to be moonbat code pinkos, before the 2012 election. A cardboard cutout would beat him if the election were held today.

Philly on June 20, 2011 at 8:10 PM

This is done to gain the votes of his base, which used to be moonbat code pinkos, before the 2012 election. A cardboard cutout would beat him if the election were held today.

Philly on June 20, 2011 at 8:10 PM

A cardboard cutout has more substance!

Roy Rogers on June 20, 2011 at 8:12 PM

When does he announce a drawdown in days-not-weeks-Libya? Hmmm?

Also, it’s not just “doves” who are angry about that. I’m a hawk and am furious about it.

-Aslan’s Girl

Aslans Girl on June 20, 2011 at 8:13 PM

Not what I heard (reminder, see infamous War Room photo with Obama dressed in golf clothes, when he was pulled in off the links to watch the raid going down).

disa on June 20, 2011 at 7:38 PM

..or the one where he looks like he’s the janitor that just happened to be standing in the hall and wandered into the room to see what was happening.

(Excuse the c.s.b.w., it was the only place I could find the photo so quick.)

The War Planner on June 20, 2011 at 8:16 PM

Well since Obama shorted Petraeus 30k troops (half of what the General asked for) and his minions have hammered away at half the advancement, its a little shorter time period the President will have to fret about leaving under less than mission achievement conditions.

Speakup on June 20, 2011 at 8:19 PM

The Taliban will wait for a significant number of troops to be withdrawn, AND THEN START RAISING HELL.

What will be Barry’s excuse then?

Oh, that’s right. HOPEFULLY he will be GONE!

GarandFan on June 20, 2011 at 8:23 PM

A cardboard cutout has more substance!

Roy Rogers on June 20, 2011 at 8:12 PM

Flat Stanley For President 2012 !

KZnextzone on June 20, 2011 at 8:34 PM

The Politicians in D.C. never wanted to actually WIN this War.

If they did they would have turned the entire country into a cauldron of Fire right before they invaded and helped cleaned up the pieces.

Instead of actually having a Ike or a Patton or a Macarthur or a Bradley we’ve got politically correct Generals and leaders in D.C. that are more worried about offending or doing harm and are willing to put our wonderful troops at higher risk.

10 years to beat a bunch of goat herders?

WASTE.

PappyD61 on June 20, 2011 at 8:36 PM

Lots of food for thought here by Caroline B. Glick re ObaMao’s foreign policy and the retirement of Gates.
http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Columnists/Article.aspx?id=225858

onlineanalyst on June 20, 2011 at 8:45 PM

Can’t wait for the spin on Wednesday…

Khun Joe on June 20, 2011 at 9:00 PM

Obama inherited around 45,000 American troops in Afghanistan from Bush. He escalated that number to around 100,000. So even if he withdrew 50,000 troops he would still have more American troops in Afghanistan than Bush had.

HalJordan on June 20, 2011 at 9:09 PM

10 years to beat a bunch of goat herders?

WASTE.

PappyD61 on June 20, 2011 at 8:36 PM

Not exactly your grandfather’s army.

HalJordan on June 20, 2011 at 9:11 PM

Politicians in D.C. never wanted to actually WIN this War.

If they did they would have turned the entire country into a cauldron of Fire right before they invaded and helped cleaned up the pieces.

Instead of actually having a Ike or a Patton or a Macarthur or a Bradley we’ve got politically correct Generals and leaders in D.C. that are more worried about offending or doing harm and are willing to put our wonderful troops at higher risk.

10 years to beat a bunch of goat herders?

WASTE.

PappyD61 on June 20, 2011 at 8:36 PM

G’damn straight!

The War of Pussyfooters

Is

Always lost.

profitsbeard on June 20, 2011 at 9:11 PM

Romney famously said at the debate that he wanted the troops home ASAP — before quickly adding “as soon as our generals think it’s okay,”

So in other words, Romney wants them there forever.

HalJordan on June 20, 2011 at 9:13 PM

But now they have to balance the Rand Pauls in the base against the Marco Rubios, which means more timid criticism from some of them and maybe not much criticism at all from others. Can’t wait to see how it plays out.

So are you saying that Rubio is a neocon chickenhawk?

HalJordan on June 20, 2011 at 9:15 PM

Bring the troops home ! Let’s see how Karzai will fare without the US “occupiers”. And NO asylum for that rat weasel ever.

bayview on June 20, 2011 at 9:17 PM

Sounds like the White House is planning to use that as a prime justification for a more rapid withdrawal, even though Petraeus seems unimpressed by it.

Petraeus is incompetent and a danger to his own troops. Patton would have relieved him of command and slapped him into next Sunday.

HalJordan on June 20, 2011 at 9:29 PM

and a counterinsurgent approach, bent on stabilizing the country so that it’s harder for bad guys to hide out there.

COIN/Hearts-and-Minds works in few places and Afcrapistan is not one of them. Petraeus is nuts.

HalJordan on June 20, 2011 at 9:33 PM

Torn between doves Pro-Americans who are angry about Libya and eager for a significant Afghan drawdown soon and Islam blind chickenhawks who want an open-ended commitment as long as they don’t have to go themselves

Your nomenclature was faulty.

HalJordan on June 20, 2011 at 9:36 PM

Yay! Bring the troops home!!!
(and I don’t even care what the thinking behind it is)

bridgetown on June 20, 2011 at 7:41 PM

This.

Although he isn’t going to actually fully bring troops home like we should. He’s just going to pull out a handful for political gain and then hope people forget about the wars again. The only reason he’s doing this is because the wars have been in the news lately.

Nelsen on June 20, 2011 at 9:39 PM

is the extent to which Republican candidates are more dovish than the Bushian baseline.

The “Bushian baseline” is around 45,000 troops in Afcrapistan, not 100,000.

HalJordan on June 20, 2011 at 9:40 PM

In fact, as the Journal notes, his original decision to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan

The Journal does very poor reporting. Obama has sent around 55,000 more troops to Afcrapistan. The 30,000 LBJ style troop escalation was just another troop escalation part of it, not Obama’s original troop escalation.

HalJordan on June 20, 2011 at 9:45 PM

I will go with the Rand Paul recommendations, get out of these wars and conflicts now. Bring the troops home!

livermush on June 20, 2011 at 9:50 PM

To all those who lost family and friends in Afgahnastan, Professor O’Barry is about to insure they died for nothing.

NickDeringer

That was a valid argument 5 years ago. 10 years in, not so much. Time to bring ‘em home.

xblade on June 20, 2011 at 10:20 PM

Maybe he’ll get another bump up in the polls.No wonder we are negotiating with the Taliban. Looks like a lot of fine Military died for nothing. Sorry it had to be said.

sandee on June 20, 2011 at 10:42 PM

Our presence in Afghanistan should have ended with the fall of the Taliban. Almost everything we’ve done there since then has been a waste, and there’s still no end in sight. I’m not claiming prescience on the matter–I supported the war long after the Taliban fell. I was wrong.

Bugler on June 21, 2011 at 7:16 AM

To all those who lost family and friends in Afgahnastan, Professor O’Barry is about to insure they died for nothing.

NickDeringer

I’m sorry, but if you want to blame someone for that, blame the public. America as a whole has neither the stomach nor spine for actual war…and Obama is merely the manifestation of the problem.

Here’s hoping the manchild can do at least ONE notable thing right in his entire misbegotten career and put an end to the Assghanistan Occupation. We’ve spent more time ‘fighting’ them than we did fighting the Nazis and Japs simultaneously, with very little to show for all the blood and gold expended. Enough already.

Uncle Sams Nephew on June 21, 2011 at 1:11 PM

Re-Election 2012 Perception/Deception Ploy
to Re-Ingage his lost Anti-War Voting Support!

I also think,it is a slap in da face to America’s Allies,
who also sheedded blood for the cause,

and yes,I’m gonna say it,

Obama is PISSING ON Canadian Soldiers graves!!

canopfor on June 21, 2011 at 7:12 PM