Afghanistan will not be a perfect place, not US' responsibility to make it one: Obama

By AFP
Published: May 27, 2014

Obama warned that in ending the US mission in Afghanistan, it will be the Afghans who would have to pick up the pieces of their war torn country. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON DC: Announcing the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan during a press conference in the White House on Tuesday, US President Barack Obama said that by the end of 2014, the US will bring to a responsible end the war in Afghanistan with only 9,800 troops remaining in the war torn country at the beginning of 2015.

However, he warned that as the US looks to end its intervention in Afghanistan by the end of 2016, Afghans will have to pick up the pieces of their country.

“Afghanistan will not be a perfect place and it is not America’s responsibility to make it one.”

Obama said that when he first took office, there were 180,000 troops stationed in Afghanistan. But by the end of 2016, it will draw down to a normal embassy presence in Kabul with a security assistance component.

“We have eliminated Osama bin Laden, and we have prevented Afghanistan from being used to launch attacks against our homeland,” said Obama.

Earlier, a senior administration official told reporters, ”We will only sustain a military presence after 2014 if the Afghan government signs the Bilateral Security Agreement.”

“Assuming a BSA is signed, at the beginning of 2015, we will have 9,800 US service members in different parts of the country, together with our NATO allies and other partners,” the official continued. “By the end of 2015, we would reduce that presence by roughly half, consolidating US troops in Kabul and on Bagram Airfield. The figures were later echoed by Obama.

“And one year later, by the end of 2016, we will draw down to a normal embassy presence with a security assistance office in Kabul, as we have done in Iraq.”

Obama had visited US forces in Afghanistan on Sunday, and spoke briefly by telephone with outgoing Afghan leader Hamid Karzai, who is due to step down this year after a June election run-off. Both candidates in that run-off vote, Abdullah Abdullah and Ashraf Ghani, have indicated they would sign the security agreement proposed by Washington if elected president.

Around 51,000 US-led NATO troops are currently deployed in Afghanistan supporting Kabul in its fight against Taliban rebels, who launched a fierce insurgency after being ousted from power in 2001.

The White House issued a fact sheet regarding the US invasion of Afghanistan and subsequent developments.

Pakistan worried about uncertainty of US troops in Afghanistan

Meanwhile, Chairman of US Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen Martin E Dempsey said that he had communicated President Obama’s decision to his Pakistani counterpart Gen Rashad Mahmood who was pleased with the news.

According to a statement by Dempsey released by the US Department of Defense on Tuesday after Obama announced that there will only be 9,800 troops in Afghanistan next year, the US General had called Gen Mahmood.

Dempsey noted that Gen Rashad and Pakistan had worried about the effect the uncertainty of US troops in the region was having on Afghanistan.

On the announcement itself, Gen Dempsey said it was one that “aligns tasks with resources.”

Gen Dempsey said that as long as the tasks and resources are aligned, the US military can execute the decision.

Obama’s decision is contingent on Afghanistan signing the bilateral security agreement with the United States, and it will be focused on two missions: advising and assisting Afghan national security forces and a counterterrorism mission against the remnants of al Qaida in the area.

Gen Dempsey also called Afghan chief of defense Gen Sher Mohammed Karimi about the decision.

“When I spoke to him and informed him of the president’s [Obama] decision to provide Operation Resolute Support with approximately 9,800 US service members in a regional construct, he said ‘Thank God.’”

Dempsey said he told Karimi that he was pleased to hear him answer that way. “He said to me, ‘We’re very happy with that. That certainty will allow us to continue our transition, and we deeply appreciate what America’s sons and daughters have done for us over the years.’”

For months, military leaders have recommended the United States keep around 10,000 personnel in Afghanistan once the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force mission ends December 31. Uncertainty about the bilateral security agreement has complicated the situation.

As Afghan forces continue to develop, administration officials expect the number of US service members based in the country to drop. By the end of 2015, officials expect the number of American troops in the country to drop to around 4,500.

The number of troops allows for a regional approach to the assist-and-advise mission, officials said. The headquarters will be in the Afghan capital of Kabul, with regional centers at Bagram Airfield, Kandahar, Mazar-e Sharif and Herat. As the number of troops drop, these forces will be consolidated in Kabul and Bagram. By the end of 2016, officials expect a normal US embassy presence with a security assistance office.

Reader Comments (48)

  • Zafar Iqbal
    May 27, 2014 - 10:38PM

    This is a story we are listening for the last many years but No implementation.
    Mr. Obama please be serious this time.

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  • National Security Advisor
    May 27, 2014 - 10:41PM

    Pakistanis are suddenly nervous.

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  • unbelievable
    May 27, 2014 - 10:42PM

    Reminiscent of Iraq – USA laid out conditions of staying and isn’t willing to negotiate. Obama told Karsai that if he continued to drag his feet that would mean a smaller footprint – that appears to be exactly what is happening. The open question is how much financial support leaves when the American do – my guess is most of it.

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  • goggi (Lahore)
    May 27, 2014 - 11:32PM

    Waging wars is indispensable for the United States. After Vietnam war another shamefaced retreat from Afghanistan!

    With the trillions they wasted in stupid wargames with the Afghan warriors, they could have built the economy of Afghanistan in a paradise.

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  • shah
    May 28, 2014 - 12:15AM

    @goggi
    what a world according to Pakistani fantasies.

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  • Waseem Sarwar
    May 28, 2014 - 12:26AM

    @National Security Advisor:
    Nervous? Pakistani security establishment has been waiting for this from years? No US troops in region and suddenly Afghanistan is “Pro-Pakistan” and if someone is nervous about that then surely its Afghan and Indian governments.

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  • Parvez
    May 28, 2014 - 12:46AM

    ……taking responsibility for one’s actions requires courage. When responsibility is not taken the incident always comes back …….. its what the US themselves coined and its called ‘ blowback ‘.

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  • A Pakistanist
    May 28, 2014 - 1:03AM

    @National Security Advisor:
    I am a Pakistani and I’m not nervous.

    What made you think that we are ?

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  • uzair
    May 28, 2014 - 1:39AM

    Wish Obama was there during 9/11. Bush wanted to make Afghan a perfect place. To stop Afghan warriors, they could’ve just carpet bombed Taliban posts and never land any soldiers, saving trillions and many American, coalition and Afghan lives. But Bush obviously had other reasons, (Iraq, anyone? Just kill saddam and war is over) and poor Obama is left to fix the mess. Good job Obama! Wish he could get few more terms or have a successeor better or equal. He really is a non-war guy. To guy who said US hasn’t implemented… Obama did withdraw forces from Iraq.

    Pakistan prefers US forces stay because it’ll stop taliban entering border to attack Pakistan or hide in Afghan.

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  • Indianandpakistani
    May 28, 2014 - 2:01AM

    Let the proxy war begin….

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  • unbelievable
    May 28, 2014 - 2:12AM

    @National Security Advisor:

    Pakistanis are suddenly nervous.

    Only the politicians like IK who promised that the Taliban would lay down their weapons and support Islamabad once the USA ended their WOT in Afghanistan. I suppose they will have to find another disingenuous excuse for not confronting extremist.

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  • user
    May 28, 2014 - 3:27AM

    Americans have some odd beliefs regarding this war. They believe that they are there for the good of the people of Afghanistan. They actually think their invasion and occupation of the country was of benefit to Afghans and that their withdrawal will hurt Afghanistan. So that is why we have the title for this article that we do. It’s aimed at a US audience.

    Anyway even after 2016 they’ll have one of those massive billion dollar fortress like embassies in Afghanistan (the sort they are building in Islamabad). There will always be a US presence unless the Taliban succeed in kicking them out for good.

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  • ali
    May 28, 2014 - 4:14AM

    Admit it ..you lost… you can stay in Afghanistan for another 100 years..and will still lose…Recommend

  • Sheikh Khalid
    May 28, 2014 - 4:46AM

    “Afghanistan will not be a perfect place and it is not America’s responsibility to make it one.” -
    Was this not known going in? It is still about Energy and Pipelines.

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  • Nikki
    May 28, 2014 - 7:08AM

    And after more than decad you have relaised that Afghanistan is not a perfect place?
    It never been and it won’t in future unless Afghan elite, and warlords take their responsiblity to make it perfect and safe, the world will never make it safe and progressive.
    Why America people should pay their taxes for warriors and Afghans elite?
    Appreciate your too late approach.

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  • unbelievable
    May 28, 2014 - 7:55AM

    @Sheikh Khalid:

    It is still about Energy and
    Pipelines.

    American’s were never going to get a drop of oil/gas from IP or TAPI. American arrival and departure has never been about oil, pipelines, minerals or any of the other nonsense one reads on this forum.

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  • muriba
    May 28, 2014 - 8:26AM

    but is pakistan’s responsibility to make Afghanistan worst

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  • Saad A. Shah
    May 28, 2014 - 8:54AM

    @National Security Advisor:

    No, We are certainly not!

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  • A
    May 28, 2014 - 9:07AM

    @unbelievable no it was not about energy but to damage the pakistani economy as it is right now..its the only muslim country with nuclear warfare capability and that was a threat for the west. their motive was to destablize the country and they have accomplished their job so that is why they do not have any reason to stay. Afghanistan was just an excuse.

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  • GIScientist
    May 28, 2014 - 9:28AM

    Yeah, Afghanistan will not be a perfect place because you Americans don’t want it to be perfect EVER. and after all your war industry has opened new fronts. eastern europe (Ukraine), north africa (libya and likes …), middle east (Syria) …. and we dont know what more are in the making.

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  • abcd
    May 28, 2014 - 9:31AM

    @unbelievable
    Kindly shed sm light wat u just said.
    Why are their oil & gas companies interested in getting TAPI contract?

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  • writer
    May 28, 2014 - 9:33AM

    No responsibility anymore for the mess there as now they are pivoting towards Asia Pacific to contain China and have controlled chaos in Syria, Libya and Ukraine.

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  • Pakistan
    May 28, 2014 - 9:39AM

    Pakistan allow 4 million Afghan refuges to stay into Pakistan until Afghanistan war get over. Most of them are not in refugee camps but spread all over Pakistan. They are authorised t purchase property and every single right (like education, health…etc) available to Pakistani citizens.

    Now most of Afghan refuges are living & working in major cities and their next generation growing in Pakistan.

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  • tab
    May 28, 2014 - 9:42AM

    We clearly understand what are America’s responsibilities – attack a country under false pretexts, destroy it completely, declare ‘victory’ and move on.

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  • Haris
    May 28, 2014 - 9:43AM

    haha..this guy won the Nobel peace award….what a joke on the face of earth

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  • goldconsumer
    May 28, 2014 - 9:54AM

    @A:
    No we are certainly not destablize either. The extremist majority is and will remain a minority. Our national priority is not waging wars and “enforcing” sharia by all means. Our priority is to contribute to the betterment of this nation, trade, industry and welfare of our fellow citizens. What matters is, leadership that is honest and capable. Its the policies and the Economy that matters. We have all the zest and zeal coupled with millitary hardware to tackle elements in FATA and Balochistan.

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  • Ali
    May 28, 2014 - 9:58AM

    One of the objectives was ‘eliminating Osama’. The broader objective was to ‘rid Afghanistan of Taliban’ I must remind you Obama. Politicians change color quicker than Chameleon.

    Leaving Afghanistan like this would only make things worse than it already is. The Afghan government will fall soon and once again the reigns will be with Taliban. They will take the fight to your soil and not to mention destabilize an already highly vulnerable nuclear region, south Asia that is.

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  • vasan
    May 28, 2014 - 9:58AM

    A : Yeap; Pakistan is the centre of universe. The sun, planets, galaxies revolve around it. Get off it. If the west wants to de-nuclearize Pakitan, it would be cinch for them, considering Israel and India would support that. They would have done it as soon as AQ Khan was exposed, as soon as 9/11 happened, as soon as OBL was killed instead of pleasing Pakistan with Kerry Lugar bill, continuously pouring money ever since Roosevelt/Eisenhower era into the sink called Pakistan.
    ET : Somebody has to counter this Pakistan being the centre of universe story.

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  • RK
    May 28, 2014 - 10:00AM

    Crippling down the infrastructure, killing thousands of innocent people, taking the country back to stoneage and now its not USA responsibility to make it a perfect place? HUH? So who is the real terrorists now?

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  • jk
    May 28, 2014 - 10:02AM

    Shame on you Mr.Obama!!!

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  • Raj - USA
    May 28, 2014 - 10:41AM

    Pakistanis think strange ways. Who is the real loser here? America lost lot of money and many brave army men. But the real loser is Pakistan which has now lost FATA and Waziristan and is in the verge of losing Baluchistan. Two days ago, Zafar Hilali said on TV that Pakistan should give away FATA and Waziristan to the talibans as it is impossible for Pakistan’s army to retake these areas and at best Pakistan can only try to contain talibans from spreading their writ and influence to other areas of Pakistan. Once American pulls out, there would not be a Pakistan. It will be take in pieces by various groups of talibans. Afghanistan will also have this problem and will stand to lose heavily and even disintegrating. India, Iran and China will also have some problem due to terrorism but these countries can handle this. In fact, it will solve the Kashmir problem for India as the small section now wanting independence will fell that it will be better for them to be with India to avoid talibans taking them over.

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  • May 28, 2014 - 10:46AM

    This statement has been a long time in coming. So, finally by 2015 there will be a small presence and in 2016 the US will halve its troops.
    The Afghans have a history of being incorrigible with a strong leaning towards fun and entertainment. That’s where India comes in. So, we can expect more nagging and niggling in our cities and borders. Pray the internal administration of Pakistan can be devoid of corrupt politicians who weaken and fraction the citizens. Salams

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  • Fahad
    May 28, 2014 - 12:13PM

    A moment of silence for those who think Afghanistan will be stable after US withdrawal. Talibans and Al-Qaeda need a platform which they do not possess and are actually trying to establish one either in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Pakistanis Armed forces are certainly not going to allow them whereas after US withdrawal they will find an opportunity to regain what once was theirs. So what I see a better and stable Pakistan and Talibinised Afghanistan after US withdrawal.

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  • Basharat Khan
    May 28, 2014 - 12:35PM

    yes america”s responsibility was to acquire the contracts of minerals in Afghanistan for the corporations which the taliban would not grant.

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  • Gurion
    May 28, 2014 - 1:31PM

    @goggi (Lahore):

    With the trillions they wasted in
    stupid wargames with the Afghan
    warriors, they could have built the
    economy of Afghanistan in a paradise.

    Yeah! Exactly how Pakistanis are building their paradise, by “negotiating” with the “warriors”.

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  • May 28, 2014 - 1:43PM

    Obama is right. America wanted to bring sustainable democracy in Afghanistan they did it and as promised they are now leaving.

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  • Sheikh Khalid
    May 28, 2014 - 3:33PM

    @unbelievable:
    Time, Space, and Phase.

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  • Afghan
    May 28, 2014 - 3:47PM

    I know it is not America’s responsibility to make Afghanistan a perfect place, nor do I believe Obama is the kind of leader to be able to orchestrate the right kind of support for such a big thing. I doubt your abilities, Mr. Self Appointed World Dictator!
    You disrespected all Afghans by your uncalled-for trip to Bagram without any prior coordination with the Afghan gov authorities and then expecting an elected Afghan president to meet you like your soldiers do. Karzi’s refusal to meet you in Bagram air base was a reaction that all Afghans felt honored by, but this was no less than a political suicide for you. Afghans are not a sheepish nation, nor do we honor any superior and selfish act/person.
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  • Afghan
    May 28, 2014 - 3:53PM

    With all the distractions caused, Bush at least knew and was committed to one thing that was waging war; Obama is neither good in war nor does he know about diplomacy. He expects too much respect, way more than he deserves or can appreciate.
    He is being continuously reprimanding and reproaching Afghans to get the kind of respect he thinks he should from Karzai.
    Karzai best knows how to make you angry, doesnt he?Recommend

  • unbelievable
    May 28, 2014 - 4:16PM

    @A:

    @unbelievable no it was not about
    energy but to damage the pakistani
    economy as it is right now..its the
    only muslim country with nuclear
    warfare capability

    Rubbish. In case you didn’t know it USA is your largest export market and also effectively controls access to IMF, ADB, WB and just about ever source of lending Pakistan uses. If the USA wanted to economically harm Pakistan Obama just has to pick up the phone – you would be sitting in the dark, unemployed and trying to find some way to charge your cell phone or notebook so you could post on this site.

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  • Mac
    May 28, 2014 - 7:27PM

    Democracy – Afghanistan is conducting its third elections. India and Iran hold elections, uninterrupted of coups by goons..

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  • antanu
    May 28, 2014 - 8:41PM

    Yes Mr.Obama….only responsibility US accepts is to destroy small but near perfect nations.

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  • May 29, 2014 - 10:20AM

    Muslim majority countries are hard to fix.

    Look at the direction Pakistan and India took. Pakistan had inherited a ready made system, like India from the British.

    The domiciles sword of Religion forever hangs over any nascent Democracy in the Muslim world.

    Afghanistan was doomed since it stopped being a majority Buddhist country. When was the last time you heard about Buddhist hordes attacking and plundering what now constitute Pakistan? NEVER!Recommend

  • May 29, 2014 - 9:53PM

    I do not understand as to why debate the President’s statement to death? If you really look at it, no place on planet earth is perfect. Plus the United States never came to Afghanistan to make if perfect. We have been there to safeguard our interest and rid the place of terrorists who had made Afghanistan their launch pads and training grounds for attacks worldwide. To folks who say we lost and now we are withdrawing, all I say to them is to get real. We were not in Afghanistan to wage a war against its people, but to help them against terrorists. No one can deny that we have broken the terrorists’ backs in Afghanistan. Their leadership has been eliminated and the few left have gone into hiding. Rest assured we will get them sooner than later. To all skeptics I say, look at Afghanistan today! You will see a different country than what you knew it to be some dozens of years ago. Afghan children are free to go to school and get educated; a generation has graduated from high schools and colleges. People are happier and looking forward to a vibrant and thriving democracy. If this is not victory for all than what is?

    Abdul Quddus
    DET-United States Central Command

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  • objective observer
    May 29, 2014 - 10:25PM

    You Pakistani’s are rejoicing at your own demise of your own doing. There is a God, justice and karma. The injustices you have perpetrated against the Afghans have hurt you more than Afghanistan and more will follow.

    Blame others all you want and deny everything all you want. The world knows you by your actions and lies.

    Your military doesn’t know if its coming and going. Your whole foriegn policy has now end game. You are more misguided than the Americans could ever hope to be. They get to go home to a great economic super power. What will you do?

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  • Raj - USA
    May 29, 2014 - 10:32PM

    @US CENTCOM:
    Happy to see your comment which is factual and way different from the usual. You have reflected most of my thoughts too.

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  • Kam
    May 30, 2014 - 3:07AM

    @US CENTCOM:

    US President has explained his new anti terrorist strategy today at west point. Instead invading countries we will make those countries partners where terrorists are so in this way we can keep US safe.

    Now Mr Centcom what does that mean?

    Well let me explain you in simple words organization X is againt US and it exists in country Y. We will pressurize country Y to do some thing against organization X. Country Y will oblige (i.e either you are with us or against us). Now organization X will for get about US get angered at country Y and convert it into rubble. Isnt it what happening since 9/11. Why people of all these countries Y have to pay to keep US safe? Why dont US itself dont make policies that there is no hatred for US and hence no organization X.

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  • objective observer
    May 30, 2014 - 5:41AM

    @US CENTCOM:

    Pakistani’s see everyone as either an enemy or using them. Because that’s they way they treat others.

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