Sunday, November 21

Pentagon comes up with delightful word to describe NATO agreement on troop withdrawals from Afghanistan

Here is the text of President Barack Obama's address to NATO at the conclusion yesterday of the two-day summit in Lisbon, Portugal. He covers all the initiatives discussed at the meeting but I want to quote just his key his comment about Afghanistan:
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’

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.
Okay; "aspirational" it is. Now they just need to give it an acronym, unless "BS" (blowing smoke) will suffice.


Get metaphysics said...

The fact is the Taliban knows we will leave sooner or later so all they have to do is wait us out. This is true whether we put an exact date on withdraw or not. We will not be in Afghanistan for the next thousand years. Or even the next hundred or the next fifty.

Pundita said...

Liberal "Observor" -- If you want me to continue publishing your comments kindly correct the spelling in your screen name so that it reads 'Liberal Observer.'

If you have a reason for the misspelling, it still wouldn't fly with me and thus, I'd ask you to use a different screen name.

Of course misspellings are not an indication of intelligence but they do indicate whether the writer respects the reader. In these days of automated 'spell checkers,' there's really no excuse for submitting copy with obvious spelling errors. That's why I proofread my final drafts even after I put them through a 'spell checker.'

And if I discover that a typo has slipped by after I've published an essay, I'll take the time to correct the error. This, despite how very busy I am and the fact that this blog is a public service, for which I receive not a cent of payment; I don't even have a request for donations posted on the blog.

And while I comment very rarely at other blogs I always take the time to check for spelling errors before submitting the comment; this as my way of showing respect for the blogger and the blog's readers.

Thank you for your attention to my request.

Regarding your comment: The Taliban propaganda is that they can wait us out; up to this point it's been effective with many Afghans due to crummy strategic communications and hare-brained strategy on the ISAF side.

Petraeus is now trying to improve both; the hilarious Pentagon presser I mentioned in this post brings hope that the coming year will see less U.S. stumbling around in Afghanistan.

I am taking nothing for granted, though, so I'll be keeping up the pressure at my blog, if I continue blogging in 2011. Right now that question is up in the air -- although I don't dare say this too loudly in case Uppity hears and sets her dog on me again.