Here in Lisbon we agreed that early 2011 will mark the beginning of a transition to Afghan responsibility, and we adopted the goal of Afghan forces taking the lead for security across the country by the end of 2014. This is a goal that President Karzai has put forward.The Taliban have already pounced on the comment and rather grandly issued their rebuttal, "Response of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as regards Lisbon Meeting," which boils down to saying they're just gonna wait out the ISAF and that they've already put together a "comprehensive policy for the future Afghanistan," to be inflicted as soon as the troops leave.
The AFP report on the Taliban statement includes the news:
A survey published late Friday gave a gloomy prediction that most people in southern Afghanistan thought the Taliban would return after NATO troops leave.If you ask whether Obama or anyone at NATO has ever heard the expression, "Loose lips sink the ship," it turns out it doesn't matter all that much what they say about withdrawal dates. I learned that from a November 19 report from Truthdig, which I found to be very cheering, even though they're pretty steamed with the Pentagon's laissez faire definition of a deadline. (This is my first visit to Truthdig but I gather they're in the anti-war camp.)
Pentagon Calls 2014 Afghanistan Withdrawal ‘Aspirational’Okay; "aspirational" it is. Now they just need to give it an acronym, unless "BS" (blowing smoke) will suffice.
Hamid Karzai and NATO would like Afghan forces to take over the country’s security by 2014, a goal Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell calls “aspirational,” as in “There may very well be the need for forces to remain in-country, albeit, hopefully, at smaller numbers, to assist the Afghans as they assume lead responsibility for the security of their country.”
And what about the July 2011 withdrawal deadline promised by President Obama?
Morrell explains:I’ve seen some of these stories that have sort of suggested that there is an inherent contradiction between July 2011 and the end of 2014. And I think we have always seen these as very much linked and consistent that you would, as the president articulated nearly a year ago, begin the gradual withdrawal of U.S. forces come July 2011, based upon conditions on the ground, and then, hopefully, move the Afghans into increasing responsibility for their security.And don’t even ask the Pentagon flack, as one reporter did, how many troops we can expect to have deployed in 2015 (2015!). That’s what Donald Rumsfeld might call a known unknown:I think it’s entirely unknowable at this point. I don’t think anybody could tell you with any credence what the force posture will be four years from now. It’s just impossible to know. It just depends. Like, we don’t know, for example -- here we are nine months out -- less than that; eight months, seven months out from the July 2011 date, and the conditions on the ground are not known to us now about -- you know, for July 2011. So we can’t even tell you, for example, how many forces we estimate will be coming out or reinvested come July 2011, let alone, you know, four years from now.