Remember how President Obama said on the campaign trail that he would “responsibly end the war” in Afghanistan in 2014? Or when Vice President Biden said the president’s plan was “to end the war in 2014?” The general they want to lead that war is singing a much different tune.
During his confirmation hearing to take command in Kabul, Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday that the U.S. needs to present a “clear and compelling narrative of commitment” to Afghanistan, beyond the 2014 timeframe for turning over security to the Afghans. Step one is to negotiate the contours of a post-2014 U.S. force in Afghanistan, to “create momentum for that narrative that I was alluding to.”
The discrepancy between Dunford’s narrative of a continuing war and his boss’ narrative of a concluding war is a consequence of the Obama administration saying two things to two different audiences about the same war. To the American public, which Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) described as “war-weary,” the Obama team has sweeping rhetoric about “mov[ing] with confidence beyond this time of war,” as Obama said during his reelection speech last week. Overseas, not so much.