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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 12/3/09

Pretense of an Afghanistan Exit Plan

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Message Ron Fullwood
At a Senate armed services committee hearing, Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton was asked whether the exit date was locked in. "I do
not believe we have locked ourselves into leaving. It is intended to
send a message about resolve and urgency," she explained. /

is what I feared when I allowed myself to be optimistic about an 'exit'
date or a 'timeline' promised to be included in the president's Afghan
strategy. The mention of 2011 in the president's speech was far short
of a plan for withdrawal from Afghanistan, and has been presented in
the wake of the address by all WH and Pentagon principals and advisers
as a mere assessment point.

I posted SoS Clinton's remark made
before the Senate Armed Services Committee yesterday because it
illustrates that the reported effort to craft the planned escalation of
force into an 'exit' strategy was designed to pacify critics who
complained about stoking an open-ended conflict with the troop
increase, and Afghans who either worry we're staying forever or worry
that we'll leave the precarious government there in a lurch. There
appears to have been no serious consideration by the WH and Pentagon of
setting a real exit date, or even a committing to a definitive

What we got instead was a cast-off line in the
president's speech about 'transfer of forces' in 2011, depending on
'conditions on the ground'. That little COTG rhetorical trick worked so
well for the last administration (and the same folks who are presenting
this 'new' Afghan policy) regarding leaving Iraq that this WH decided
to roll with the deception as part of their Afghanistan presentation,
hoping that anti-occupation Democrats are still believing the
administration's earlier hints about leaving Afghanistan on a definite

Yep, the president gave us that little rhetorical
twist in his speech about beginning the "transfer of our forces out of
Afghanistan in July of 2011. Just as we have done in Iraq," the
president said, "we will execute this transition responsibly, taking
into account conditions on the ground."

I know, I know . . .
President Obama isn't Bush. He's more intelligent, more caring, less
connected to the MIC, so we should believe him when he said in the
speech, "After 18 months, our troops will begin to come home."

I get the feeling that the remarks about troops coming home was just a
pacifier for his critics on the left, and the qualifier about
'conditions on the ground' was a wink and a nod to those on the right
who act as if suggesting an end to the quagmire is akin to treason.

Sec. Gates, when asked about the 2011 date, told lawmakers that it was
just a "clear statement of his (Obama's) strong intent."

"It is
our plan to begin this transition process in July 2011. If
circumstances dictate in December (2010), I think as I said the
president always has the freedom to adjust his decisions," Gates said.
He insisted that the transfers would begin in the "most uncontested
places" of Afghanistan first. Other areas of the country could remain
locked in "extraordinarily heavy combat," he said.

Asked whether
the July 2011 start of the transfer of security responsibility to the
Afghans may not include immediately a withdrawal of U.S. forces, Gates
said:"That is correct."

When you strip away the gratuitous
rhetoric about leaving, the Afghanistan occupation escalation plan
really has no predictable end - just a wish and a prayer which relies
on militarily subduing the Taliban into a weakened position where
Afghan forces can mop-up; enlisting and training Afghans to fight our
'war on terror' (to the ultimate number of 170,000 Afghan troops,
Admiral Mullen said).

Just last week, the U.S commander in Iraq,
Gen. Odienero, illustrated the cheapness of promises of withdrawal
based on COTG by insisting he had until March 2010 to 'decide' whether
to extend the Iraq deployments beyond the exit date that they sold to
the public a short time into this presidency. The possible delay? Iraqi
politics. Time and time again, we've been promised an Iraq exit after
some Iraqi political milestone. Every time we get close to the date
outlined, someone in the WH or Pentagon raises the bar, insists on
another delay, and makes a mockery out of our trust.

Yeah, I've
heard all of the excuses. "It'll take time to undo the last
administration's mess. Give it time." Interesting how most folks in
opposition to Bush never assumed there was any credible justification
at all for his foot-dragging. Now with this new Democratic president,
we're being asked to accept excuses and delays in both occupations
which will allow more fighting, more killings and deaths, and more
individuals bent on violent resistance to the U.S. and NATO's advance
across their sovereign territory.

The administration and
supporters of this escalation want us to go to sleep for a year and a
half while our military forces attack and kill Afghans they'll
invariably determine is akin to al-Qaeda - while expecting Pakistanis
to repel those combatants who will undoubtedly flow across their border.

about the truth from the administration, right up front? The only way
to 'end' the occupation in Afghanistan is to leave. Staying and
escalating the troops and the attacks will create a new round of
reprisals from all sides. There won't be any net reduction of U.S.
forces in 2011 because the Pentagon leadership and the president have
set our 'goals' there in terms of 'defeating' and 'dismantling' an
ideology which passes like a virus among those subject to our arbitrary
and indiscriminate attacks. Most of the Taliban in Afghanistan are
free-agents from the fugitive 9-11 suspects instigating from within

What this escalation is going to produce is a
solidifying and hardening of an entirely new 'enemy' in Afghanistan,
apart from the 'plotters' of 9-11 who the administration has obliged by
sending U.S. targets to their doorstep. The military has said they
believe that only about 100 'al-Qaeda are still within Afghanistan.
Many more Afghans will be killed by our indiscriminate forces and
labeled 'combatants' or 'insurgent'. They are to be regarded by the
administration as proxy for the 9-11 fugitives which elude us in
Pakistan. Driven by our attacks to violent resistance, they will be
regarded by our military as mere obstacles to their consolidation of
power and control over Afghans.

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Ron Fullwood, is an activist from Columbia, Md. and the author of the book 'Power of Mischief' : Military Industry Executives are Making Bush Policy and the Country is Paying the Price
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