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Feb. 26, 2014

Leaving Afghanistan?

Obama threatens to leave.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has stymied a bilateral security agreement while making deals with the Taliban, and his doing so may lead to total U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan sooner rather than later. As recently as January, the Pentagon was proposing a residual force of 10,000 U.S. troops after 2014. But Karzai and Barack Obama have hardly even talked in recent months, except that Obama reportedly warned Karzai in their lone recent phone conversation that a bilateral security agreement was necessary to keep Americans on the ground there. Karzai knows that the Taliban will be there for a long time while Obama has been looking for any old excuse to leave for years. As former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates put it, “The president doesn’t trust his commander, can’t stand Karzai, doesn’t believe in his own strategy and doesn’t consider the war to be his. For him, it’s all about getting out.” That makes Karzai’s choice rather simple.

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