President Barack Obama is delaying the pace of his planned troop withdrawal from Afghanistan but has not changed his commitment to remove nearly all U.S. troops by the time he leaves office.
The White House cited a newly productive relationship with Afghanistan’s new co-leaders, President Ashraf Ghani and Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah, as one key reason why Obama agreed to grant what they called “flexibility” in the planned departure.
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Another reason, Obama suggested to reporters Tuesday at the White House, are the lessons learned from the collapse of security in Iraq following his withdrawal of U.S. forces in 2011, which ultimately necessitated the return of nearly 3,000 American troops this year to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, along with an air war costing $8.5 million a day.
“We’re doing everything we can to help the Afghan Security Forces succeed, so we don’t have to go back,” Obama said, “so we don’t have to respond in an emergency because terrorist activities are being launched out of Afghanistan.”
You read that correctly. He learned so much from the Iraq debacle that he is going to do exactly the same thing in Afghanistan, he’s just going to take longer to do it.
Naturally, the press is treating this like a measured response on the part of the president. The problem, however, wasn’t just with how quickly troops were removed from Iraq, but that the enemy knew exactly when they would do so.
ISIS has proven to be patient and savvy, and they have been co-opting some Taliban warriors to gain a foothold in Afghanistan.
And now they know just how long they have to hang around.