Wednesday, June 22, 2011
President Obama delivered a primetime address tonight from the White House and announced he will bring home 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year and, 23,000 more by next summer. The troop withdrawal will be completed two months before voters decide whether to reelect Mr. Obama to a second term.
It’s important to remember that 18 months ago, President Obama authorized a “surge” of 30,000 U.S. combat troops. If tonight’s math holds true, the total number of troops to be withdrawn from Afghanistan amounts to just 3,000 more than Obama’s 30,000 troop surge. Leaving behind a staggering 70,000 U.S. troops by the 2012 election.
Numbers like this make it difficult for me to “take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding,” as the president orated tonight without a hint of irony. Apparently, I’m not the only one dissatisfied with Mr. Obama’s announcement.
Sen. Carl M. Levin (D-MI), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, called the plan a “positive development, although in my view the conditions on the ground justify an even larger drawdown of U.S. troops.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), said Mr. Obama’s announcement was not what she wanted saying, “It has been the hope of many in Congress and across the country that the full drawdown of U.S. forces would happen sooner than the President laid out and we will continue to press for a better outcome.”
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said, “Ending the surge in 2012 with a disappointing 10,000 combat troops coming home this year is not good enough. As I have advocated for months, it is time to shift course in Afghanistan to a counter-terrorism mission, with an aggressive drawdown of combat troops.”
Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), chairman of the Out of Afghanistan Caucus, issued a press release saying the Afghanistan war continues “with no end in sight.” Conyers said, “While I appreciate that the President has decided to bring home some troops this year, the slow speed of this withdrawal unfortunately ensures that the vast majority of our servicemen and women will be embroiled in an unaffordable military quagmire for at least two more years.”
Tonight’s announcement makes it conclusive that Hawks like Gen. David H. Petraeus and outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates still hold sway over this president and not the American people.
According to a Washington Post-ABC News poll, two-thirds of Americans now say the Afghanistan war — now in its eleventh year, was not been worth fighting.
The war effort costs the United States about $10 billion a month.