For John, BLUF: We keep an eye on Afghanistan or problems will brew up again. Nothing to see here; just move along.
The President has sent a message to President Hamid Karzai that since President Karzai is unwilling to sign a mutually beneficial Bilateral Security Agreement, we are planning on how best to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan. The White House Press Release says, in part:
With regard to the Bilateral Security Agreement, in advance of the NATO Defense Ministerial, President Obama told President Karzai that because he has demonstrated that it is unlikely that he will sign the BSA, the United States is moving forward with additional contingency planning. Specifically, President Obama has asked the Pentagon to ensure that it has adequate plans in place to accomplish an orderly withdrawal by the end of the year should the United States not keep any troops in Afghanistan after 2014. At the same time, should we have a BSA and a willing and committed partner in the Afghan government, a limited post-2014 mission focused on training, advising, and assisting Afghan forces and going after the remnants of core Al Qaeda could be in the interests of the United States and Afghanistan. Therefore, we will leave open the possibility of concluding a BSA with Afghanistan later this year. However, the longer we go without a BSA, the more challenging it will be to plan and execute any U.S. mission. Furthermore, the longer we go without a BSA, the more likely it will be that any post-2014 U.S. mission will be smaller in scale and ambition.On the other hand, Representative Howard P "Buck" McKeon (R-CA), Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee for the 113th Congress, talked to the issue at the National Press Club, in Washington, DC, on Monday, the 24th of February. Fox News put up the speech under the title "A safe, secure Afghanistan is within our grasp -- don’t let it slip away".
Representative McKeon throws a compliment at President Obama
The president has sustained international support for this new democracy. He went out and found billions in aid to help lift them out of despair. He kept the coalition of countries willing to send troops to fight with us. And as a direct result of his military strategy, Afghanistan is freer and America is safer.But, he is making the point that we have to be in for the long term if we are not allow our success to slide into long term failure.
These fights can be won. But they take time, patience, and treasure – and all those things usually come in short supply with voters.So, are these conflicting views, or is the Administration and the House of Representatives double teaming President Karzai, so he will be motivated to sign the BSA?
Regards — Cliff