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Obama's Afghan deadline dilemma
Seeking to force Afghanistan to get its act together, Obama set a firm date for beginning to pull out U.S. troops. It's not working. What now?
 
Obama met with Karzai in May 2010.
Obama met with Karzai in May 2010.
Getty

By many recent indications, President Obama's Afghanistan troop "surge" is not going well. The battle to wrest Marja from the Taliban has proven harder than expected, the push to take Kandahar has been postponed, President Hamid Karzai is an increasingly erratic partner, and U.S. and NATO casualties are mounting. Given these setbacks, does Obama's firm July 2011 deadline to start withdrawing American troops still make sense? (Watch a Russia Today discussion about America's "addiction" to war)

Obama has to pick a side: There's a glaring contradiction at the heart of Obama's Afghanistan policy, says David Corn in Politics Daily. The war is apparently "so important that the United States must sacrifice hundreds of billions of dollars and many GI lives, yet there's an arbitrary start date for withdrawal." Since a victorious July 2011 pullout seems incompatible with the flailing troop surge, he has to tell us which is more important, and soon.
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The strategy is working — give it time: Obama's counterinsurgency plan entails "hard, slow work," like all such operations, but it's "far from hopeless," says John Nagl in the New York Daily News. If Obama ignores the "gloom" in Washington and stays the course for "five years," the military can build on its very real successes and continue to "build an Afghan government that can outperform the Taliban and an Afghan Army that can outfight it."
"Things are grim in Afghanistan, but victory remains in sight"

A 2011 pullout is victory: The idea that we can create a stable Afghanistan in "a year or two, or even 10, is pure fantasy," says Eugene Robinson in The Washington Post. So Obama needs to stick to his deadline, even though the "post-American Afghanistan" will be a little chaotic. Because another word for an "amorphous" deadline is "an open-ended commitment," and nobody wants that.
"Obama must keep to his Afghanistan deadline"

 

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