President Obama said he would start pulling our troops out of Afghanistan in July of 2011. The next day, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the withdrawal would be “conditions based,” a statement that was later supported by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and National Security Advisor Jim Jones.
Today, Sunday, Mr. Gates is saying that we should expect our troops to have a significant presence in Afghanistan for two to four more years.
I am reminded of the buildup to the war in Iraq, when then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said repeatedly that the Iraq War would be over and done with in about 6 months time.
“We don’t talk about deployments in the specific, but we have brought a good many Guard and Reserve on active duty. Fortunately, a great many of them were volunteers. We have been able to have relatively few stop losses. There are some currently, particularly in the Army, but relatively few in the Navy and the Air Force. And it is not knowable if force will be used, but if it is to be used, it is not knowable how long that conflict would last. It could last, you know, six days, six weeks. I doubt six months” -Donald Rumsfeld February 7, 2003
As we approach the end of 2009 our troops remain in Iraq and Afghanistan. In Iraq 4,685 coalition forces and untold numbers of Iraqis have been killed. In Afghanistan, 1,535 coalition forces and untold numbers of Afghans have been killed. It appears plans laid by the neocon influenced Bush Administration for the United States to have an ongoing presence remain in place. Somewhere, Karl Rove and the boys are undoubtedly toasting themselves with very old scotch and expensive cigars as they lay plans for the next national election while their strategy for democratization of the Middle East, or something like it, dies the death of a thousand cuts.