But since Obama said the last U.S. troops will leave Afghanistan in 2016, it’s the next president’s problem, and Obama is passing the buck — just as he has all over the planet.
Obama’s continued push to transition security to the Afghans amid a deteriorating security situation is indicative of the president’s desire for a time-driven strategy for withdrawal, instead of one based on the accomplishment of planned goals. This violates the very tenets of basic military planning, but there doesn’t seem to be anyone in the White House that either understands or cares enough to tell the president the truth.
The Taliban came up with a saying to describe the situation after the president announced his timetable for withdrawal a few years ago: “You have the watches but we have the time.”
This phrase is often used by detainees to taunt their American captors, because they know that soon enough the Americans will be gone — no matter the situation on the ground. If the president visited Taliban prisoners at the detention facility on Bagram he might have even heard it for himself.
By remaining at Bagram Air Field for “security reasons,” Obama failed to meet with any Afghan officials — a potentially important meeting as Karzai has refused to sign the security agreement with the U.S. The yet-to-be-signed security agreement is the lynchpin required to facilitate the final phase of the president’s Afghanistan policy, as outlined in his speech. This security agreement must be signed and be in place before the end of 2014 in order to provide the U.S. with the legal authority to remain in Afghanistan.
Two days after visiting Afghanistan, the president announced that he seeks to keep 9,800 U.S. combat forces in Afghanistan in order to safeguard U.S. security gains and transition responsibility over to Afghan security forces by the year’s end. But his declaration is divorced not only from reality, but from his own interpretations of it: On the campaign trail, the president promised to have all U.S. forces out of Afghanistan by 2014; and the security agreement required to enable this is going to be left to two Afghan men battling to become president of their country in an impending runoff election.