Obama considering “zero option” for Afghanistan withdrawal

posted at 10:41 am on July 9, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

As the relationship between Hamid Karzai and the Obama administration deteriorates, so too do our long-term prospects of influencing events at the end of America’s longest war. CBS reports this morning that the White House is now considering a complete pullout — a “zero option” — next year, rather than a phased transition to an advisory presence in Afghanistan:

The Obama Administration is considering a complete pullout of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by 2014, a reversal of the current policy of keeping a small number of units there after the scheduled 2014 drawdown and a sign of mounting tension between President Obama and Afghan president Hamid Karzai.

CBS News Chief White House correspondent Major Garrett reports that top White House aides admit the change reflects Obama’s mounting personal frustration with Karzai. U.S.-Afghan tensions boiled over in June, following initial steps toward a launch of coordinated formal peace talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.

One day after the talks between U.S. and Afghan officials and the Taliban were set to begin, Karzai publicly denounced the effort and suspended all conversations with the U.S. over future military cooperation.

The so-called “zero option” would remove the residual counter-terrorism and advisory force set to stay in Afghanistan after the 2014 draw-down. The option has been on the table since January but, Garrett said, until this week it was raised more as a point of leverage in conversations between Washington and Kabul than as a serious consideration.

We’ve heard the “zero option” before, in January, as Major Garrett explains.  At the time, it was considered a leverage point, but leverage for what, and with whom?  Karzai doesn’t want American troops in Afghanistan for a long period of time, and would prefer the zero option if he could count on his own security forces to hold the line.  Having a foreign army on Afghanistan’s soil complicates his political situation long term, and he knows it.

It’s the US that needs a counter-terrorism force in Afghanistan, more so than Karzai does.  The US wants a rapprochement between the Taliban and Karzai so that we can focus on al-Qaeda remnants in Pakistan.  We want an end to the civil war to make that job easier.  So far, Karzai doesn’t share in that enthusiasm, and neither does the Taliban. They made that clear by closing their office in Qatar after being told they couldn’t represent themselves as the legitimate government of Afghanistan:

The Afghan Taliban have closed their office in the Gulf State of Qatar at least temporarily to protest the removal of a sign they had put up identifying the movement as the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan, a diplomat and Taliban official said Tuesday.

The office was opened less than a month ago to facilitate peace talks, and has also come under pressure for using the same white flag flown during the Taliban’s five-year rule of Afghanistan that ended with the U.S.-led invasion in 2001. Qatar removed the sign and flag last month after Afghan President Hamid Karzai demanded their removal.

Both officials, familiar with the peace talks in the Qatari capital of Doha said the offices have been temporarily closed.

“They (Taliban) do not go out of their homes in Doha and have not gone to the office since the removal of the flag and the plaque,” the Taliban official said in a telephone interview. He said the Taliban blamed Karzai and the United States for the breakdown in talks, accusing both of using the name and the flag as an excuse.

A diplomat in the region who is familiar with the talks said: “The (Taliban) Political Commission has stopped all international political meetings and is not using the office.”

If the US is serious about pursuing the “zero option,” then the obvious question is … why wait until mid-2014 for withdrawal? Why not start now?


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

We should pay for homecoming parades and celebrations for the Taliban and Al Queider.

oldroy on July 9, 2013 at 10:48 AM

Well, the Left’s been agitating for this generation’s Vietnam since 2001, and since they failed to turn “The Bad War” into it, they’re turning “The Good War” into it.

Off-topic, but somehow still related – Agence France-Presse is reporting (via Breitbart) that Snowden is going to Venezuela.

Steve Eggleston on July 9, 2013 at 10:49 AM

US embassy employees painting helipad targets on the roofs yet?

Wethal on July 9, 2013 at 10:50 AM

If the US is serious about pursuing the “zero option,” then the obvious question is … why wait until mid-2014 for withdrawal? Why not start now?

Indeed. Hasn’t the filthy rat-eared coward already killed enough of our young people with his incompetence, cowardice, and hatred of the military?

Happy Nomad on July 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Huh. I thought this was the “good war.” The one Bush was supposed to be winning until he “took his eye off the ball” and invaded Iraq.

Jeez, Mr. President, are you admitting failure in the war you claimed you could “win?”

Rubbing Obama’s nose in it aside, yes, get the hell out now. Get the hell out five years ago. There are a lot of things we could have done back when to leave Afghanistan a more stable place, less able to breed terrorists. We didn’t do them.

So let’s quit sending our best and bravest to risk life and limb for no good reason.

notropis on July 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM

I’m not going to say we should never have gone to Afghanistan. But we should never have stayed and tried to fix the place. It’s always been the perfect example of a third-world toilet and it’ll probably stay that way forever.

Someday, if we get our selves together, we’ll cure even more diseases, create even greater technological marvels, even go to the planets and maybe the stars. They’ll still be killing each other in the mud.

We need to get out while we still have our souls.

trigon on July 9, 2013 at 10:52 AM

I wonder if we could send one of those new “super hueys” to take our last people off the top of the embassy in Kabul? We could even paint it tie die colors and “Choom Choom” on the side. And we could burn an American flag as we leave.

oldroy on July 9, 2013 at 10:54 AM

One other thing.

If it ever becomes a problem to us again, in any way, sterilize it.

Tell them, and the rest of the world that when we leave.

trigon on July 9, 2013 at 10:55 AM

One other thing.

If it ever becomes a problem to us again, in any way, sterilize it.

Tell them, and the rest of the world that when we leave.

trigon on July 9, 2013 at 10:55 AM

You mean like vasectomies for all?

oldroy on July 9, 2013 at 10:57 AM

They’ve been killing each other in that part of the world for thousands of years. It’s a giant suck hole not worth one American life, and we should pull our forces out of there. Yes, that puts us in danger, but we’re already in danger anyway, and will be as long as Islam wants to dominate the world. Let them keep killing each other.

RebeccaH on July 9, 2013 at 10:58 AM

The Obama Administration is considering a complete pullout of U.S. troops in Afghanistan by 2014,

 
Say, isn’t there an election in 2014?
 
Out of Afghanistan in 2014, and Obamacare not implemented until 2015.
 
With that we can understand the quagmire and political loser they admit Obamacare equates to.

rogerb on July 9, 2013 at 11:03 AM

“What’s an Afghanistan? Say, have you seen this new sand wedge I got…not that I NEED a sand wedge because my game is just that awesome.”

-Dog Eating Criminal Traitor Boy

Bishop on July 9, 2013 at 11:09 AM

One other thing.

If it ever becomes a problem to us again, in any way, sterilize it.

Tell them, and the rest of the world that when we leave.

trigon on July 9, 2013 at 10:55 AM

you guys and your genocide

tlynch001 on July 9, 2013 at 11:09 AM

If we do totally uproot, we should at least demonstrate our ability to strike anywhere, anytime, using any weapon in Afghanistan AND Pakistan.

ThePrez on July 9, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Nothing but another staged 2014 photo op so Democrats can officially claim they got out of Afghanistan, and the media puppets won’t show the fires burning in the backdrop, nor discuss the waste of American life that Obama is now soley responsible for.

HopeHeFails on July 9, 2013 at 11:12 AM

Dog Eater getting lazy again. You know he got his lickspittle cabal of “advisers” together to talk about the problem, a group of people who couldn’t wash my car without somehow bending the frame during the process, and at about the 10 minute mark the Boy Criminal got bored and decided to wrap things up.

Dog Eater is in so far over his head with his current job that you would need the Marianas Trench to measure just how far.

Bishop on July 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

All intentional.

Two factions succeed under obama, only two, always:

1. He and his pockets, and

2. His muzzie brotherhood

Schadenfreude on July 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

um, the US instituted the ‘zero option’ in Nov 20008.

socalcon on July 9, 2013 at 11:19 AM

Name one nation, not the one of Islam, which is free/freer, due to obama, I triple dare you.

Schadenfreude on July 9, 2013 at 11:19 AM

War ends when there is a winner. At this point, it looks like the Taliban are the winners. I can’t help but think of the scene in Cool Hand Luke where George Kennedy is kicking the crap out of Paul Newman and Newman just won’t quit. Finally, Kennedy can’t take hitting him anymore and stops. The Taliban just keep getting the snot beat out of them, but they just won’t give in. Strange group of people to say the least. But when you live in a hell hole like Afghanistan, what choice have you got.

Deano1952 on July 9, 2013 at 11:21 AM

Appropriately labeled. 0

Bmore on July 9, 2013 at 11:24 AM

Pull everyone out with the warning that if we ever have to return we’ll vaporize the whole lot. No ifs, ands or buts. Attack us again and the only way anyone will ever be able to visit Afghanistan will be in their imagination.

HotAirian on July 9, 2013 at 11:24 AM

I’ll say it again.The mission now for the military members is to not be the last one killed.Every mission should be sandbagged by the troops.

docflash on July 9, 2013 at 11:26 AM

You have to go back hundreds of years to find a country that invaded Afghanistan successfully. It is the national equivalent of a hedgehog: it just rolls into a ball, and waits attackers out until they lose interest. Or they get sniped in the mountains.

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA521361

VastRightWingConspirator on July 9, 2013 at 11:26 AM

He’s so vain he even names his options after himself.

Flange on July 9, 2013 at 11:27 AM

They(taliban) made that clear by closing their office in Qatar after being told they couldn’t represent themselves as the legitimate government of Afghanistan

Why shouldn’t they? They won the war and control most of the country.

abobo on July 9, 2013 at 11:27 AM

Vietnam all over again.

thebrokenrattle on July 9, 2013 at 11:29 AM

We need to get out while we still have our souls.

trigon on July 9, 2013 at 10:52 AM

Ha ha ha ha…..

Cleombrotus on July 9, 2013 at 11:35 AM

So let’s quit sending our best and bravest to risk life and limb for no good reason to keep muslims from killing each other.

notropis on July 9, 2013 at 10:51 AM

Cleombrotus on July 9, 2013 at 11:37 AM

Name one nation, not the one of Islam, which is free/freer, due to obama, I triple dare you.
Schadenfreude on July 9, 2013 at 11:19 AM

Who cares? Can we leave that Afghan hellhole to the ancient savages that want it now?

happytobehere on July 9, 2013 at 11:38 AM

But we should never have stayed and tried to fix the place. I

Well, as you know the idea was to build some sort of government and security so that we could leave and not have the radicals takeover things.

And we’d be back to Square One.

Pakistan has always been the problem. They are paranoid about a pro-western government in Afghanistan allied with India. They’d rather have a radical terror government in Afghanistan than one that is joined with India.

India is their prime – and only major concern, not the Islamists.

SteveMG on July 9, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Once W was gone I always knew it would come to this.

Cue the line of civilians hanging onto the last chopper as it lifts off the embassy rooftop.

The Left has it’s Narrative.

It must be obeyed.

Bruno Strozek on July 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

CBS News Chief White House correspondent Major Garrett reports that top White House aides admit the change reflects Obama’s mounting personal frustration with Karzai. U.S.-Afghan tensions boiled over in June, following initial steps toward a launch of coordinated formal peace talks with the Taliban in Doha, Qatar.

One day after the talks between U.S. and Afghan officials and the Taliban were set to begin, Karzai publicly denounced the effort and suspended all conversations with the U.S. over future military cooperation.

Sounds like the frustration would be over and disagreements a thing of the past if Obama would just quit trying to have peace talks with the Taliban.

Obama’s frustration is ENTIRELY a thing of his own making.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 9, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Pakistan has always been the problem. They are paranoid about a pro-western government in Afghanistan allied with India. They’d rather have a radical terror government in Afghanistan than one that is joined with India.

India is their prime – and only major concern, not the Islamists.

SteveMG on July 9, 2013 at 11:39 AM

Pakistan is only half the problem. Iran has been the other half.

Flange on July 9, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Vietnam all over again.

thebrokenrattle on July 9, 2013 at 11:29 AM

The difference is that Ford didn’t open the embassy gates and yell “Welcome, my brothers!” to the enemy.

Bishop on July 9, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Pakistan is only half the problem. Iran has been the other half.
Flange on July 9, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Islam is the problem.

happytobehere on July 9, 2013 at 11:46 AM

CBS News Chief White House correspondent Major Garrett reports that top White House aides admit the change reflects Obama’s mounting personal frustration with Karzai.

 
Wow. Now imagine what lengths he’d go to to screw people that can actually influence his actions and legislative goals.

rogerb on July 9, 2013 at 11:46 AM

We’ve installed a sharia constitution for them, what else do they want?

happytobehere on July 9, 2013 at 11:47 AM

Seriously, has no one noticed that the whole reason why Obama and Karzai are having disagreements is that Obama keeps wanting to have peace talks with the Taliban and restore them to power? That would be the same Taliban that controlled the nation until we kicked them out. Obviously, Karzai doesn’t want them to come back in and take control again. If Obama would quit meddling, agreement would come quite easily.

There Goes the Neighborhood on July 9, 2013 at 11:48 AM

why wait until mid-2014 for withdrawal?

Hmmm… Why would we want a parade of troops to come home in summer of 2004?

blammm on July 9, 2013 at 11:49 AM

Islam is the problem.

happytobehere on July 9, 2013 at 11:46 AM

That’s even more accurate.

Flange on July 9, 2013 at 11:50 AM

Bruno Strozek on July 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

Damn straight yo.

thebrokenrattle on July 9, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Did Karzai close on all his chalets yet?

Are the bank accounts all good to go?

Does everyone in his extended clan have valid visas?

Bodyguards and “government in exile” appointed?

Speech draft to UN/Joint Session/First Press Conference?

Check.

spiritof61 on July 9, 2013 at 11:55 AM

you guys and your genocide

tlynch001 on July 9, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Don’t be an idiot. These guys harbored people who committed mass murder right here in the US homeland. Live. On TV. Then, they refused to give the murderers up when we asked for them.

We tossed the barbarians out of power, installed a more reasonable and civilized government and poured billions in aid into their craphole of a country.

At this point, we owe them nothing. And, it’s obvious to anybody with a brain that they’ll knife us in the back at the earliest opportunity. It would only be prudent to point out to them that there might be adverse consequences to doing us dirt in the future. We be fully justified in bringing them those adverse consequences if they do.

Anybody has a right to protect themselves from those who would do them harm.

trigon on July 9, 2013 at 12:00 PM

Pakistan is only half the problem. Iran has been the other half.

In Afghanistan? I know they’ve given some support to the Islamists but not a lot.

SteveMG on July 9, 2013 at 12:05 PM

Taliban? Is that the same Taliban that sexually enslaves young boys, wholesale; throws acid in the faces of any girls who try to attend school; forces women to imitate farm chattle at the risk of beatings or death; and murders anyone who uses technology to ease their life burden? That Taliban?

Whoooweee….I can’t imagine why a client state drug-dealing despot like Karzai wouldn’t want us making a deal with the Taliban.

Wait- I have an idea: wouldn’t it be smarter to just shoot as many of the Pashtun males as we can find and then leave? Wouldn’t that work better than sacrificing our own young people civilizing the uncivilizable and, in the process, turning ourselves into foreign policy pretzels to find an excuse for our simple desire to leave Afpak behind?

MTF on July 9, 2013 at 12:16 PM

Can’t wait for the shots of Taliban tanks crashing into the American Embassy in Kabul.

The democratics will find always find a way to lose a war, on that you can count.

slickwillie2001 on July 9, 2013 at 12:26 PM

the White House is now considering a complete pullout — a “zero option” — next year, rather than a phased transition to an advisory presence in Afghanistan

“Now” considering a complete pullout? LOL.

Comrade O started considering a complete pullout back in 2009 after McChrystal explained the reality of the situation to him. He wanted to do a complete pullout back then.

However, Comrade Chairman O, the Coward, decided for political reasons to instead sacrifice the lives of a couple of thousand more US soldiers and Marines before doing what he wanted to do all along and will now do.

farsighted on July 9, 2013 at 12:49 PM

Re: The Taliban.

Obama has it in his head that his personal magnetism and powerful intellect can single-handedly cause others to forget centuries of belligerence and become BFFs forever, just through his sheer force of personality.

It’s called narcissism.

VastRightWingConspirator on July 9, 2013 at 1:22 PM

Once again, The Lightworker snatches defeat from the jaws of Victory.

Who knew that part of that Fundamental Transformation of the United States of America was from a culture of persevering until victorious, to one of abject cowardice.

Another Drew on July 9, 2013 at 1:25 PM

…vasectomies for all….

A nuclear vasectomy would not be genocide, but a suitable Darwin Prize.

Another Drew on July 9, 2013 at 1:30 PM

John F. Kennedy:
“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”

George Bush:
“We will direct every resource at our command — every means of diplomacy, every tool of intelligence, every instrument of law enforcement, every financial influence, and every necessary weapon of war — to the destruction and to the defeat of the global terror network. And we will pursue nations that provide aid or safe haven to terrorism. Every nation in every region now has a decision to make: Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists. From this day forward, any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.”

Obama:
o Provided thousands of weapons & grenades to Mexican Drug Cartels resulting in the deaths of hundreds of Mexican & US people as well as an administration cover-up.

o Aided the terrorists in Libya, who recruited from worldwide Jihadists to go kill American soldiers in Afghanistan & Iraq, to overthrow Qadaffi and take control of their own government, resulting in Al Qaeda controlling their own nation/’safe haven’, the death of the 1st US Ambassador in over 30 years, the abandonment of 2 Americans who fought for their lives for over 7 hours while waiting for help that would never come, & the ensuing & continued cover-up.

o Aided the overthrow of Mubarak in Egypt, forced an elevated election schedule thus aided the terrorist group the Muslim Brotherhood to take over Egypt, and expressed his loyalty/backing to that group during a Egyptian civilian-backed Military overthrow of the terrorist-run government.

o Turned his back on Iranians who rose up and fought for freedom in Iran.

o Called the attack by the self-professed ‘Solder of Allah’, who threatened to behead fellow officers if they refused to convert to Islam/who communicated with Al Qaeda leadership/the man who gunned down his fellow soldiers as they prepared to deploy, a case of ‘Workplace Violence’ rather than what it was — a TERRORIST ATTACK.

o Just met in the White House with the assistant of a known terrorist who is on the ‘no Fly List’.

o Who opined immediately after he heard about the bombing in Boston that it was probably some violent radical American conservative group.

o Who met with in the Hospital (and who the 1st Lady met with) the Saudi thought to be involved in some way in the Boston bombing & ensured he left the country as quickly as possible while the investigation continued.

o Who is considering stepping into the Syrian civil war to help Islamic Extremists again overthrow the existing government so they can control another nation, thereby creating another Safe Haven for terrorists.

o Who was attempting to hold talks with the Taliban & Kharzi about ‘sharing power’ in Afghanistan…until the Taliban attacked the Presidential palace in an attempt to kill Kharzi & Obama’s Rep an hour before the meeting, & is now planning to pull all US troops/personnel out, leaving Afghanistan to fend for itself.

….

In the immortal words of ‘Sesame Street’, ‘One of these things (Presidents) are not like the other…’

easyt65 on July 9, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Obama’s frustration is ENTIRELY a thing of his own making.
There Goes the Neighborhood on July 9, 2013 at 11:42 AM

Stupid is, as Stupid does!

Another Drew on July 9, 2013 at 1:34 PM

Breaking News: Air Force One has just made a U-Turn in the air. Possibly related: Monster Lobster Caught Off Gloucester

slickwillie2001 on July 9, 2013 at 1:37 PM

Once the Constitutions of Iraq and Afghanistan were ALLOWED to incorporate Sharia Law, we engineered our own loss and should have pulled out instantly from both lands… and bombed from the air from that point onward if any terrorists raised their heads.

Everyone who died in both wars, after that point, was sacrificed for less than nothing.

AKA- for the P.C. insanity about “the religion of peace”

profitsbeard on July 10, 2013 at 12:45 AM