Speech Overview: President Obama announced that he signed an agreement with the Afghan government to remove combat troops from Afghanistan by 2014, and to have a continuing military presence there until 2024. The speech lasted approximately ten minutes and highlighted a staggered troop withdrawal to be executed over the next 2½ years. For the most part, I agree with the President on this. There is one main area of concern that I have. In the speech, President Obama said:
"As we move forward, some people will ask why we need a firm time line. The answer is clear: our goal is not to build a country in America's image, or to eradicate every vestige of the Taliban. These objectives would require many more years, many more dollars, and many more American lives. Our goal is to destroy al Qaeda, and we are on a path to do exactly that. Afghans want to fully assert their sovereignty and build a lasting peace. That requires a clear time line to wind down the war.
Others will ask why we don't leave immediately. That answer is also clear: we must give Afghanistan the opportunity to stabilize. Otherwise, our gains could be lost, and al Qaeda could establish itself once more. And as commander in chief, I refuse to let that happen."
I've always been skeptical of a timeline for withdrawal. Obama does bring up critics' questions about a timeline, but he doesn't answer this one: if we announce we are leaving (or removing all combat troops by an exact date), why do we think the enemy won't simple wait, reserve its resources, and escalate its violence, planning, and logistical movements until after we leave? Why won't Al Qaeda simply say, "well, the U.S. is leaving on XXX date, let's hold off and lay low until they do. Once they are gone, then we can rekindle some bases, plan attacks, wreak havoc on Afghanistan, and escalate the civil war and power void that existed before the U.S.-led operations." In my opinion, that question wasn't answered.
What do you think of the President's speech? Our agreement and strategy? Please share your opinions below.