The Obama Administration Plans To Keep Us in Afghanistan

Another campaign promise dies as the U.S. government hammers out a deal to keep troops in a war-torn country.

If a draft agreement between the Obama administration and President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan is finalized, U.S. troops will remain in that country indefinitely — instead of being withdrawn at the end of 2014, as the administration has said.

This is a confession of failure. America’s longest war is nowhere near its end.

The draft agreement (PDF) dated July 25, 2013, which was obtained by Richard Engel of NBC News, states,

This Agreement shall enter into force on January 1, 2015.… It shall remain in force until the end of 2024 and beyond, unless terminated pursuant to paragraph 4 of this Article [requiring two years written notice]. [Emphasis added.]

Under the proposed agreement, the U.S. government would continue to train, arm, and assist the Afghan military. “In addition,” the unsigned document continues, “the Parties acknowledge that continued U.S. military operations to defeat al-Qaeda and its affiliates may be appropriate and agree to continue their close cooperation and coordination toward that end.”

“Continued U.S. military operations” reportedly includes raids on the homes of Afghans, which have created so much anti-American sentiment. The issue of raids has held up a final agreement, but the New York Times reports that the logjam was broken when the Obama administration agreed to write a letter “acknowledging American military mistakes in Afghanistan and vowing not to repeat them.”

The Times said the two governments have agreed to terms “allowing American-led raids on Afghan homes under ‘extraordinary circumstances’ to save the lives of American soldiers.” That language is not found in the July 25 draft agreement, which instead contains an Afghan government insertion stating, “No detention or arrest shall be carried out by the United States forces. The United States forces shall not search any homes or other real estate properties.” This restrictive provision must have been dropped from a later draft in return for the U.S. pledge to write the letter conceding “mistakes.”

Despite a $17 trillion national debt, American taxpayers will continue to be on the hook, as the agreement commits the U.S. government to

seek funds on a yearly basis to support the training, equipping, advising and sustaining of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF), so that Afghanistan can independently secure and defend itself against internal and external threats, and help ensure that terrorists never again encroach on Afghan soil and threaten Afghanistan, the region, and the world.

One wonders how independent Afghanistan can be if Americans are footing the bill.

According to NBC’s Nov. 19 report, “The bilateral security agreement will be debated this week in Kabul by around 2,500 village elders, academics and officials in a traditional Loya Jirga. While the Loya Jirga is strictly consultative, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has said he won’t sign it without the Jirga’s approval.”

Under the terms of the agreement, the U.S. government would continue to be the guarantor of Afghanistan’s sovereignty and its authoritarian regime, a commitment that could endanger Americans, as well as cost them much money. The Afghan government, at U.S. insistence, would waive jurisdiction over U.S. military and civilian personnel who commit war crimes. The U.S. government would have sole jurisdiction: “Members of the force and of the civilian component are exempt from personal arrest or detention.” Further, “Afghanistan and the United States agree that members of the force and of the civilian component may not be surrendered to, or otherwise transferred to, the custody of an international tribunal or any other entity or state without the express consent of the United States.”

We don’t know how many U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan, but NBC says that an Afghan source estimated 10,000–15,000, while a U.S. source said 7,000–8,000, along with NATO troops.

What’s clear from the negotiations is that the United States is not close to ending combat operations in Afghanistan, which began in October 2001.

Thousands of Afghan noncombatants have died in the 12-year war, yet Afghanistan remains a dangerous place, and reports of U.S. progress are not merely gross exaggerations, but outright lies. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda and its offshoots have spread to Iraq, Syria, the Arabian Peninsula, and Africa.

In other words, the U.S. government has lost a war it never should have begun.

Further U.S.-inflicted bloodshed will do nothing but make matters worse. It’s time for the U.S. military to leave.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Aresen||

    So, the Mayor of Kabul gets another stay of execution.

  • alexisaudrey||

    my classmate's step-sister makes $83/hr on the computer. She has been fired for nine months but last month her payment was $14664 just working on the computer for a few hours. go.....W­W­W.D­U­B­3­0.C­O­M

  • alexisaudrey||

    my classmate's step-sister makes $83/hr on the computer. She has been fired for nine months but last month her payment was $14664 just working on the computer for a few hours. go.....W­W­W.D­U­B­3­0.C­O­M

  • wadair||

    So Obama reneges on every campaign promise.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    As did every President before Obama, and as will every other President after Obama. What's new?

  • OneOut||

    In your view if someone committed murder last year and got away with it, then anyone else who commits murder in the future should be given a free pass because of the first guy who got away with it ?

  • creech||

    Where can we sign a petition to the Loya Jirga telling them to reject this deal?

  • sjl2112||

    The Loya Jirga has been convened to discuss the equitable division of the future profits from the American occupation among the various Afghan factions. The discussion of dividends from opium distribution will be discussed at the Annual Meeting this Spring.

    Analysts expect them to raise the dividend in spite of the forecast troop withdrawal. You need to present your share certificates to protest any management action.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    What happened to 'ending the endless war?'

    Where, oh where, are the anti-war protestors now!

    As the great Sonny in 'A Bronx Tale' once said, "nobody cares."

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    Read "Endless Enemies, The Making of An Unfriendly World" by the late Jonathan Kwitny.

  • Rufus J. Firefly||

    I will. Thanks.

  • JWatts||

    Where, oh where, are the anti-war protestors now!

    They'll be back the next time a Republican resides in the Oval Office. There's no need for anti-war protestors with The Lightbringer in charge. He's the champion of peace. He even has a Nobel Prize to prove it.

  • Res ipsa loquitur||

    War is only bad if BUSH is President....or any Non-Republican.

  • Jquip||

    What happened to ending it? The labor force participation rate.

  • DuplicationCube||

    The government has mouths to feed (Lockheed Martin, etc.) and it's easier to do that via a war that's already ongoing, rather than starting a new one a la Syria.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    President Obama could have withdrawn ALL of our forces from Iraq and Afghanistan as soon as he took office, and failed to do so because he listened to a lot of second rate militarists (civilian and military), who want to keep conflicts going so they can justify their existences, as well as make huge profits for contractors and other social parasites.

  • OneOut||

    really ?

  • Craig@NC||

    Yes, Obama could have ignored all his advisers and ordered a mad dash withdrawal as soon as he took office. What would have been the political ramifications for a newly-elected president? I'm sure the Obama team took this option into consideration and determined the potential fallout was not worth the potential benefits (politically). Instead, we have seen a calculated drawdown based on congressional election cycles. I anticipate we will see the next major moves just prior to or immediately following the 2014 congressional elections, the timing being determined by opinion polls.

    If your reading list isn't too full, have a look at Obama's Wars by Bob Woodward.

  • Will Nonya||

    That's a common belief and there's bound to be some proof to it but the will to extend America's influence and power has less to do with military industrial lobbies than with politicians and incompetent foreign policy staff. The state department has more interest in keeping us engaged in that part of the world than the pentagon.

  • Will Nonya||

    ...some truth to it...

  • Craig@NC||

    Will, I'd lean more towards your point of view. I'd go out on a limb and say I know a lot more about Afghanistan than most, though I claim no expertise; and I think I'm less apt to make sweeping, vague, and perhaps bizarre assertions than some of the folks here. "Dude, military industrial complex, bro. No blood for oil." It can be as though reciting cliches or paraphrasing Oliver Stone interviews is a substitute for trying to build some basis of knowledge before drawing one's own conclusions.

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    One wonders how independent Afghanistan can be if Americans are footing the bill.

    Pretty independent if the ones we train keep killing us.

  • Eric Bana||

    If I hear Obama dismissing "cynics" in another speech, I'm gonna puke.

  • wingnutx||

    I guess I'll get one more deployment after all.

  • Craig@NC||

    Since Africa and the Philippines remain under the radar, your chances might be good either way.

  • ReasonableS||

    "Under the proposed agreement, the U.S. government would continue to train, arm, and assist the Afghan military."

    We are leaving a small force to help train the Afghan military especially with their Air Force. The job isn't done and we can't abandon Afghanistan again like we did after the Soviets withdrew otherwise we and the Afghans might lose what we've been fighting for.

    I don't see it as a broken promise. I see it as a reasonable measure to keep what we've gotten.

  • Will Nonya||

    I'm afraid you're barking up the wrong comments section for that kind of argument.

    There is a reason we went into Afghanistan and as a soldier in 2001 I believe it was just. Continuing the feed the corruption and establishing another Korea really isn't and shouldn't be supported.

  • On The Road To Mandalay||

    As one veteran to another, I salute you for your service. The reasons for going to Afghanistan back in 2001 may have been just, and especially in the light of 9/11. However, don't you think that it is time to leave. Whatever happens in Afghanistan after we leave, I believe thats the Afghanistan knows that the next time they harbor a terrorist attack on the U.S. launched from their country that we will be back in full force. But enough is enough. Why leave any troops there, except the Marines who guard our Embassy in Kabul? We have now been there three times as long as we were involved. In fact we have been there as long as we fought Japan in World War II to include the post war occupation of Japan. This cost millions per day, and not to mention being in places like South Korea and Europe still. The South Koreans can't defend themselves? The Europeans can't defend themselves. And now we have Africa Command. What the Hell!!!!!!!!!!

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement