Afghanistan: When is “Withdrawal” an “Enduring Presence"?

Dennis Loo | November 14, 2012

The “post-2014 enduring presence.”

In May of this year NATO leaders met in Chicago – after making sure that no demonstrators would be allowed to come anywhere remotely near their meeting place, after all, they were planning peace and you can't have protestors demanding an end to wars at a peace conference – and one of the, if not the, biggest announcements coming out of it was that NATO accepted Obama’s plan to withdraw NATO and US troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

At the end of the NATO confab, on May 22, 2012, CNN interviewed Afghan Puppet President Hamid Karzai who said: "We have finalized plans so 2014 will be a year in which the United States will not be spending as much money in Afghanistan as it is spending today. It will save money and we will be providing security ourselves," he said. "That transition and the eventual withdrawal in 2014 of the U.S. forces and other NATO forces from Afghanistan is good for Afghanistan and good for our allied countries."

The CNN article online was entitled: “NATO accepts Obama timetable to end war in Afghanistan by 2014.

Now scroll forward to November 12, 2012 and Agence France-Presse reports that Obama’s advisers are deciding how many US troops to leave behind in Afghanistan indefinitely:

The commander of NATO and US troops in Afghanistan, General John Allen, has submitted a range of recommendations that are being studied by top officials at the White House and the Pentagon, [Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta told reporters aboard his plane.

“General Allen has worked on several options that we are now reviewing and working with the White House on,” said Panetta, en route to Australia for a week-long trip to Asia.

“And my hope is that we’ll be able to complete this process within the next few weeks.”

He added: “I’m confident that we’re going be able to get to the right number for the post-2014 enduring presence.”

The “post-2014 enduring presence.”

Withdrawal and enduring presence don’t sound synonymous to me, do they to you?

As for the “right number for the post-2014 enduring presence,” how about zero?

Dennis Loo is a member of the steering committee of World Can't Wait. His website is

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