Is staying in Afghanistan OK with you as
long as we call it leaving?
President Obama has signed an agreement with President Karzai to keep a major U.S.
military presence in Afghanistan
(currently about three times the size Obama began with)
through the end of 2014, and to allow a significant unspecified
presence beyond that date, with no end date stipulated.
Obama stresses that no permanent U.S. bases will be involved, but his agreement
to let U.S. troops use “Afghan” bases.
Obama forgot to provide any reason not
to withdraw from Afghanistan
now, given majority U.S.
desire to end the war. Like Newt Gingrich promising to
quit campaigning before actually doing so, Obama is promising
to leave Afghanistan, but not yet - except that he isn’t
promising to ever leave at all. The agreement is open-ended.
Obama spoke on Tuesday of a transition
to Afghan control, but we’ve heard that talk for a decade.
That’s not some new bright idea that requires two-and-a-half
more years to develop.
Obama talked of fighting al Qaeda, but
has not been fighting al Qaeda in Afghanistan,
and has admitted for years that there is virtually no
al Qaeda presence there. That’s not the two-year project,
and it’s not the reason to remain indefinitely after 2014.
The agreement requires that all “entities”
involved in a peace process renounce violence, but the
Taliban will no more do that while under foreign occupation
than the United
States will do so while occupying.
This is not a serious plan to leave. Nor is it a plan
based on Afghan sovereignty, numerous claims to the contrary
notwithstanding. This is a treaty for more years of war,
on the model of the Bush-Maliki treaty for Iraq,
but with the difference that theirs included an end date.
The agreement says it enters into force
when “the Parties notify one another, through diplomatic
channels, of the completion of their respective internal
legal requirements.” The U.S. Constitution requires ratification
by the Senate of all treaties. Congress could insist on
its right to approve or reject this, just as the Afghan
Parliament will be permitted to do. Or Congress could
require withdrawal now, as does bill HR 780, which has
The written agreement doesn’t mention it,
but Obama said on Tuesday that he would withdraw 23,000
troops by the end of the summer, after which reductions
would continue “at a steady pace.” Assuming 90,000 U.S.
troops now in Afghanistan,
a steady pace would get them all home by about a year
from now, not two-and-a-half years from now. But Obama
says that it will be the end of 2014, not when the last
troop leaves, but when a significant number of troops
remain, as Afghans become “fully responsible for the security
of their country” - except for whatever it is that the
U.S. troops will do.
Obama is full of praise for U.S.
troops, as if they’ve benefitted Afghanistan.
And he’s full of concern for the suffering of U.S.
troops and U.S.
citizens. When he mentions Afghans, at best he equates
their suffering under U.S. bombs, drones, night
raids, and prison cells, to the suffering of Americans
scared by their television sets and forced to over-eat
to relieve their stress. “Neither Americans nor the Afghan
people asked for this war,” Obama said, forgetting that
one of those two countries had invaded the other one and
occupied it for over a decade. “The reason America is safe is because of you,” Obama told
U.S. troops, forgetting that
the war has made our nation more hated around the world.
This agreement is inexcusable. It’s also
vague and preliminary. A more detailed treaty will be
worked out on May 20th when NATO meets in Chicago.
We need to be there en masse in protest.
BlackCommentator.com Guest Commentator, David Swanson, is co-founder of the AfterDowningStreet.org
coalition and a board member of Progressive Democrats of America. He is the author of: Daybreak:
Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect
Union (Seven Stories Press) and War
Is A Lie
. His website is www.davidswanson.org.
to contact Mr. Swanson.