Rep. McKeon, senators: The “zero option” in Afghanistan, isn’t an option. …Is it?

posted at 4:41 pm on July 10, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

Unclear. As Ed noted yesterday, CBS as well as the New York Times have reported that the White House is considering a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan at the close of 2014, instead of the generally understood plan for a phased transition to an advisory presence. The White House refused to rule out the “zero option” back in January, and the implied suggestion was supposedly a method of throwing their weight around a little — but a continually deteriorating relationship between President Obama and Afghan president Hamid Karzai is reportedly driving the issue to the forefront again.

On Tuesday, the White House said semi-disputed the reports, with Jay Carney insisting that there is “no decision imminent,” that they’ll “continue to negotiate with the Afghan government” to achieve policy objectives, and that “the suggestion a video conference call” run afoul “was determinative of anything was incorrect,” but does that sound just a tad bit coy to qualify as a concrete answer? Whatever they might be hinting at, the House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) doesn’t think the zero option is one the administration is seriously considering, and said in a statement that they have assured him of as much:

Later in the day, though, a senior Republican stepped into the fray as a kind of unlikely (and far more forceful) spokesman for the administration. House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon released a written statement that seemed to flatly contradict Carney’s suggestion that Obama might adopt the “zero option.”

“This evening, senior Administration officials assured me that there is no ‘zero option’ scenario under consideration. I was assured that the United States has committed to post-2014 support to include troops on the ground. I was further informed that a ‘zero option’ would violate American commitments to the Afghan people,” McKeon said.

“News of the ‘zero option’ damages our position in Afghanistan, erodes our standing with our allies, emboldens the Taliban, and demoralizes our troops. I call on the president to confirm the assurances of his senior officials and clarify his ‘zero option’ position,” the California lawmaker said.

And the leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee seem to be skeptical that withdrawing all of our troops from Afghanistan post-2014 is a realistic move the administration is honestly considering, either, via The Hill:

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) told The Hill Tuesday that he thought the Obama administration was trying to make it clear to Karzai in their security negotiations that he isn’t the one giving up ground by allowing U.S. troops to stay beyond 2014.

“For him to suggest that somehow or another we’re imposing something and that he’s giving up something by having us stay — that suggestion I think is so-off base that we’ve got to find a way of disabusing him of thinking that he’s got leverage,” Levin said.

“I think it’s a signal that he thinks he has leverage that he doesn’t have,” Levin said.

Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), the top Republican on the Armed Services panel, said he has serious problems with withdrawing all troops from Afghanistan — and he added that he had not heard the idea suggested by any administration officials.

“The zero option is one that would be very difficult to do,” Inhofe said. “The key is the number of people that we would leave there to make sure the numbers are great enough that they would not be in danger.”

Indeed; as Ed already pointed out, it’s in the United States’ interests more so than Karzai’s to maintain a presence in Afghanistan and keep up counter-terrorism operations. What’s the deal?


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I misunderstood until I read it through-

Initially, I hoped thought the “Zero Option” involved a presidential para-drop into the heart of Taliban territory for a beer summit.

M240H on July 10, 2013 at 4:49 PM

Zero’s Option.

Flange on July 10, 2013 at 4:56 PM

it’s in the United States’ interests more so than Karzai’s to maintain a presence in Afghanistan and keep up counter-terrorism operations.

Why? What are we achieving? We’ve been there a decade and we’re now past the point of diminishing returns so what’s are interests in being there?

lowandslow on July 10, 2013 at 4:58 PM

Rep. McKeon, senators: The “zero option” in Afghanistan, isn’t an option. …Is it?

Of course it is an option. Joe Biden was put in charge of developing a Status of Forces agreement with Iraq and he dutifully failed so the zero option kicked in. This adminisration wants the same thing in Afghanistan. Only Democrats and Ron Paul supporters think this is a good idea. But really, any further support will not make all that much of a difference. Bring the troops home.

Happy Nomad on July 10, 2013 at 5:01 PM

What’s the deal?

Barry O got a new shipment of drones and will continue the battle from the air…

albill on July 10, 2013 at 5:06 PM

I support the zero option. If there is still a threat to our national security there, then let’s go in with all our military might and wipe it out tomorrow. Otherwise, we need to get out. Completely. It’s time to let the Middle East alone unless we can provide a direct, imminent threat to us, in which case we need to wage true war and wipe it out quickly.

Shump on July 10, 2013 at 5:09 PM

Why is leaving that hell hole entirely regarded as such a shocking and horrifying outcome? We don’t have the money, the man power, or the will to turn that place around.

abobo on July 10, 2013 at 5:19 PM

I believe it’s time to get out.

Let the Afgans do what they want to each other, we do not need any more of our troops being maimed and killed for their backward 7th century belief system.

They will never have democracy let alone a true republic…

Time to leave…

Scrumpy on July 10, 2013 at 5:19 PM

Our forces should’ve been pulled once Bin Laden was confirmed dead.

Bring them home so they can secure our borders that really do need securing.

RedRobin145 on July 10, 2013 at 5:28 PM

Future terror attacks on the US won’t be planned by or from Afghanistan. It is easy enough to do it right here. I support the zero option. Any hope of achieving success over there is gone.

echosyst on July 10, 2013 at 5:36 PM

Of course it should not be an option. It should be mandatory. If a country is not directly threatening our national security, which Afghanistan is not anymore, we should GTFO.

AngusMc on July 10, 2013 at 5:51 PM

Heck,I was giddingly waiting for the beheading videos to start hitting YouTube.

docflash on July 10, 2013 at 6:59 PM

it’s in the United States’ interests more so than Karzai’s to maintain a presence in Afghanistan and keep up counter-terrorism operations

For obama, being in the United States’ interest is an excellent reason to do just the opposite.

bgoldman on July 10, 2013 at 7:44 PM

Here’s my idea of an acceptable “zero option”…and incidentally, I also think it’s about the only way we could ever conceivably win this damn war. Unfortunately.

Pull up the stakes, pack everything up and come home. Tell the world we’re praying we never have to go back. More importantly, tell the Afghans they’d better pray we never have to come back, because if we do, it won’t be like it’s been.

Then, when we inevitably DO have to go back, don’t screw around. Take one week, and wipe that Godforsaken cesspool off the face of the Earth. Carpet-bomb them until they are literally under water. As in, about a hundred feet below sea level. Turn the Tora Bora mountain range into the Tora Bora sea trench.

Then after that’s done, turn and ask who’s next in line.

The real problem in this war, which everyone seems to have failed to comprehend all these years, is not that our enemies hate us. The problem is that our enemies hate us, but do not fear us.

Cylor on July 10, 2013 at 8:37 PM