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Obama's Broken Afghan Promise

- July 6, 2016

Amidst Rising Violence, Obama Walks Back His Own Drawdown Plan That Clinton Supported

TOP TAKEAWAYS

  • Today, President Obama announced that he would leave more than 8,400 U.S. troops in Afghanistan through the end of his presidency – roughly 3,000 more than his previous drawdown plan called for. 
  • Today's announcement is the final straw in Obama's broken campaign promise to end the war in Afghanistan and complete full withdrawal of U.S. troops before the end of his presidency.
  • Obama's announcement comes as the Taliban is gaining territory in Afghanistan and al-Qaeda remains a threat.
  • As Secretary of State, Clinton supported "every facet" of President Obama's initial "aggressive" withdrawal plan, despite skepticism from top military officials. She even said in congressional testimony she supported the plan "100 percent."
  • In the wake of President Obama's announcement, it appears rather embarrassing that Clinton's political allies have credited her with ending the war.

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OBAMA ANNOUNCED TODAY THAT HE IS ONCE AGAIN REVISING HIS AFGHAN STRATEGY TO LEAVE MORE U.S. SOLDIERS AFTER HE IS GONE

Today, President Obama Announced That He Would Leave Roughly 8,400 Troops In Afghanistan Through The End Of His Presidency, Abandoning Plans To Drawdown Troops Further And Pull Out. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: "Based on the recommendation of General Nicholson as well as Secretary Carter and Chairman Dunford and following extensive conversations with my national security team as well as Congress and the Afghan government and our international partners, I'm announcing an additional adjustment to our posture. Instead of going down to 5,500 troops by the end of this year, the United States will maintain approximately 8,400 troops in Afghanistan into next year through the end of my Administration." (President Obama, Remarks From The White House Of Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan, 07/06/16)

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In October 2015, Obama Announced That He Would Leave "Nearly 10,000 U.S. Troops In Afghanistan Through Most Of Next Year And 5,500 When He Leaves Office In 2017, Casting Aside His Promise To End The War On His Watch And Instead Ensuring He Hands Off The Conflict To A Successor." "President Barack Obama announced plans Thursday to keep nearly 10,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan through most of next year and 5,500 when he leaves office in 2017, casting aside his promise to end the war on his watch and instead ensuring he hands off the conflict to a successor." (Lolita C. Baldor and Julie Pace, "Obama Says He'll Keep More Troops In 'Fragile' Afghanistan," The Associated Press , 10/15/15)

  • The New York Times Headline: "Obama Announces Halt Of U.S. Troop Withdrawal In Afghanistan" (Matthew Rosenberg, "Obama Announces Halt Of U.S. Troop Withdrawal In Afghanistan," The New York Times, 10/15/15)

"The Announcement Underscores The Difficulty Mr. Obama Has Had In Achieving One Of The Central Promises Of His Presidency" And Concedes That "Afghan Forces Are Not Fully Up To The Task Of Protecting Their Country." "But the announcement underscores the difficulty Mr. Obama has had in achieving one of the central promises of his presidency in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Obama conceded that despite more than a decade of fighting and training, Afghan forces are not fully up to the task of protecting their country." (Matthew Rosenberg, "Obama Announces Halt Of U.S. Troop Withdrawal In Afghanistan," The New York Times, 10/15/15)

Obama's Announcement Comes On The Heels Of Recent Gains By The Taliban In Afghanistan

The Taliban Has Been Gaining Ground In Afghanistan. "The new tactic has helped the Taliban gain ground, albeit at a slower pace than a deadly, surprise raid on an entire village. For the insurgents, starving a population out is less costly than forcing them out at gunpoint and risking armed resistance. The Taliban are seeking to expand their footprint at any cost - even if that means raising their flag over an empty village. The tactic demonstrates a significant shift in emphasis. In the past, fighters would first try to attack high-profile government targets, such as district administration buildings and police headquarters. Now, by focusing their firepower on checkpoints at the edges of towns and villages, they can gain ground more cheaply. (Mirwais Khan And Lynne O'Donnell, "With New Tactics, Taliban Gain Ground In South Afghanistan, The Associated Press , 06/03/16)

  • Director Of Urzugan's Provincial Council, Abdul Hakeem Khadimzai: "Every Day Our Forces Are Stepping Back, And Every Day The Taliban Are Controlling More And More Area." "The director of Uruzgan's provincial council, Abdul Hakeem Khadimzai, described the situation there as the 'worst in 15 years.' In May alone, he said, about 200 security forces were killed and more than 300 were wounded in Uruzgan. The figures are an estimate. Khadimzai insisted that if he were to include civilians, 'then they would be doubled.' The numbers could not be independently verified, since the Afghan government does not release military and police casualty figures. 'Every day our forces are stepping back, and every day the Taliban are controlling more and more area,' he said. 'Our security forces are trying their best to control the area, but they can't because logistics supplies are not delivered on time.'" (Mirwais Khan And Lynne O'Donnell, "With New Tactics, Taliban Gain Ground In South Afghanistan, The Associated Press , 06/03/16)

Today, President Obama Admited Al Qaeda Is Still A Serious Threat In Afghanistan. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: "Even as we work for peace, we have to deal with the realities of the world as it is, and we can't forget what's at stake in Afghanistan. This is where Al Qaeda is trying to regroup. This is where ISIL continues to try to expand its presence. If these terrorists succeed in gaining areas where they can train and plot, they will attempt more attacks against us." (President Obama, Remarks From The White House Of Troop Withdrawal From Afghanistan, 07/06/16)

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THE ANNOUNCEMENT CRYSTALIZES OBAMA'S BROKEN PROMISE TO END THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN

In June 2011, Obama Announced His "Substantial Withdrawal [Plan] Of American Troops" From Afghanistan. "President Obama declared Wednesday that the United States had largely achieved its goals in Afghanistan, setting in motion a substantial withdrawal of American troops in an acknowledgment of the shifting threat in the region and the fast-changing political and economic landscape in a war-weary America." (Mark Landler and Helene Cooper, "Obama Will Speed Pullout From War In Afghanistan," The New York Times, 6/22/11)

Vice President Joe Biden Also Promised A Full Withdrawal "Come Hell Or High Water" By 2014. VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: "That's exactly what we did at the recent Lisbon conference, the NATO conference, where we said we are starting this process, just like we did in Iraq, we are starting it in July 2011. And we will be totally out of there come hell or high water by 2014." (Joe Biden, "Meet The Press," NBC News, 12/19/10)

Obama Called For A Full U.S. Military Withdrawal By The End Of 2014. "Administration officials have promised a full military withdrawal by the end of 2014." ("Afghan Withdrawal More 'Aggressive' That Military Proposed," CNN, 6/24/11)

In 2014, President Obama Claimed That The War In Afghanistan Was Over, Even As U.S. Soldiers Still Faced Dangers. "Thirteen years and more than 2,000 American casualties after it began, the war in Afghanistan will conclude responsibly, President Barack Obama said on Sunday. In a written statement marking the formal end of U.S. combat there, Obama said the remaining 10,000 or so American troops in Afghanistan would still face danger but that the longest U.S. war ever was now history." (Kevin Liptak, "Obama Marks End Of Combat In Afghanistan," CNN, 12/28/14)

Obama's Top Defense Officials Warned That His Plan For A Full Withdrawal Was Too "Aggressive"

Marine Lt. General John Allen: Obama's Withdrawal Plan From Afghanistan "Was Not" One Of The Options The Military Had Presented. SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): "All right. Now let's talk about counterinsurgency. The option that the country has chosen through President Obama is to withdraw 10,000 this year - all surge forces gone by September. Is it fair to say, General Allen, that was not one of the options presented to the president by General Petraeus?" MARINE LT. GEN. JOHN ALLEN: "It is a more aggressive option than that which was presented." GRAHAM: "My question is was that an option?" ALLEN: "It was not." (Armed Services Committee, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 6/28/11)

Top Military Commanders Criticized The Obama Administration's Withdrawal Schedule As "Aggressive." "Top military commanders told members of Congress on Thursday that President Barack Obama's scheduled withdrawal of 33,000 'surge' troops from Afghanistan by next summer is more 'aggressive' than the Pentagon initially proposed." ("Afghan Withdrawal More 'Aggressive' Than Military Proposed," CNN, 6/24/11)

  • CNN Headline: "Afghan Withdrawal More 'Aggressive' Than Military Proposed" ("Afghan Withdrawal More 'Aggressive' Than Military Proposed," CNN, 6/24/11)

Admiral Mike Mullen, Then-Chairman Of The Joint Chiefs Of Staff, Described Obama's Surge Plan As "Aggressive" And Containing "Risk." ADM. MIKE MULLEN: "And let me be candid, however. No commander ever wants to sacrifice fighting power in the middle of a war, and no decision to demand that sacrifice is ever without risk. This is particularly true in a counterinsurgency, where success is achieved not solely by technological prowess or conventional superiority, but by the wit and the wisdom of our people as they pursue terrorists and engage the local populous on a daily basis. In a counterinsurgency, firepower is manpower. I do not intend to discuss the specifics of the private advice I rendered with respect to these decisions. As I said, I support them. What I can tell you is the president's decisions are more aggressive and incur more risk that I was originally prepared to accept." (Mike Mullen, Committee On Armed Services, U.S. House of Representatives, Testimony, 6/23/11)

General David Petraeus: "The Ultimate Decision Was A More Aggressive Formulation, If You Will, In Terms Of The Time Line, Than What We Had Recommended." GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS: "The president then made a decision. The commander in chief has decided. And it is then the responsibility, needless to say, of those in uniform to salute smartly and to do everything humanly possible to execute it. Now, as Chairman Mullen, Admiral Mullen, stated today before the House Armed Services Committee, the ultimate decision was a more aggressive formulation, if you will, in terms of the time line, than what we had recommended. Again, that is understandable in the sense that there are broader considerations beyond just those of a military commander." (Select Committee On Intelligence, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 6/23/11)

DESPITE THE MILITARY'S SKEPTICISM, CLINTON SUPPORTED OBAMA'S POLITICALLY MOTIVATED TROOP WITHDRAWAL PLAN AND INSISTED THE TRANSITION WAS "ON TRACK"

As Secretary Of State In 2011, Clinton Testified Before The Senate Foreign Relations Committee That Obama Had "Hit The Mark" With His Decision To Withdraw All Troops From Afghanistan By The End Of His Presidency. SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN): "Let me ask you, do you a hundred-percent agree with what the president had to say last night?" CLINTON: "Yes, I do." CORKER: "In every facet?" CLINTON: "Yes, I do, Senator. And this was an -- a very open, candid discussion within the national security team. Obviously, people forthrightly presented their own views. It will not surprise you that the views ranged across the spectrum about what should be done and what should not be done. But I think that the president, you know, with his decision, has hit the mark." (Hillary Clinton, Committee On Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 6/23/11)

When Asked If She Agreed "100 Percent" With Obama's Afghan Withdrawal Plan, Clinton Said "Yes I Do," And Said She Supported "Every Facet" Of The Announcement. SEN. BOB CORKER (R-TN): "Let me ask you, do you a hundred-percent agree with what the president had to say last night?" CLINTON: "Yes, I do." CORKER: "In every facet?" CLINTON: "Yes, I do, Senator. And this was an -- a very open, candid discussion within the national security team. Obviously, people forthrightly presented their own views. It will not surprise you that the views ranged across the spectrum about what should be done and what should not be done. But I think that the president, you know, with his decision, has hit the mark." (Hillary Clinton, Committee On Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 6/23/11)

Click To Watch

  • Clinton On Obama's Troop Withdrawal Plan: "But The Bottom Line…Is That We Have Broken The Taliban's Momentum. So We Do Begin This Drawdown From A Position Of Strength." CLINTON: "First, let me say a word about the military effort. Last night, the President explained his plan to begin drawing down our forces next month and transitioning to Afghan responsibility. I will leave it to my colleagues from the Defense Department to discuss the specifics. But the bottom line, as the President said, is that we have broken the Taliban's momentum. So we do begin this drawdown from a position of strength." (Hillary Clinton, Committee On Foreign Relations, U.S. Senate, Hearing, 6/23/11)

Click To Watch

Following The Withdrawal, Clinton Later Insisted The Transition In Afghanistan Was "On Track"

Clinton, 2012: "The Transition Is On Track, The Afghans Are Increasingly Standing Up For Their Own Security And Future… The Transition Can Work." CLINTON: "As difficult a week as this has been in Kabul and other parts of Afghanistan, the big picture is clear. The transition is on track, the Afghans are increasingly standing up for their own security and future, and NATO remains united in our support for the Lisbon timetable, and an enduring commitment to Afghanistan. The attacks in Kabul this week show us that while the threat remains real, the transition can work. The response by the Afghan National Security forces were fast and effective, and the attacks failed." (Hillary Clinton, Remarks On Afghanistan At NATO Meeting, Brussels, Belgium, 4/18/12)

  • Clinton: "The Afghans Are Proving Themselves Increasingly Ready To Take Control Of Their Own Future." CLINTON: "Not long ago, this kind of response by Afghans themselves would not have been possible. So the Afghans are proving themselves increasingly ready to take control of their own future." (Hillary Clinton, Remarks On Afghanistan At NATO Meeting, Brussels, Belgium, 4/18/12)
  • Clinton: "We Are On Track To Meet The December 2014 Deadline For Completing The Security Transition." (Hillary Clinton, Remarks On Afghanistan At NATO Meeting, Brussels, Belgium, 4/18/12)

Click To Watch

AS OBAMA ABANDONS PLANS TO WITHDRAW FROM AFGHANISTAN, CLINTON'S ALLIES HAVE ODDLY PRAISED HER FOR ENDING THE WAR

The Pro-Clinton Research Group, Correct The Record, Has Repeatedly Credited Clinton With Ending The War In Afghanistan

The Pro-Clinton Research Group, Correct The Record, Has Credited Clinton With Ending The Wars In Iraq And Afghanistan. "Secretary Clinton played a role in bringing one war to an end and planning for the end of another. Working closely with Department of Defense colleagues and as part of the President's national security team, Secretary Clinton played a role in the end of war in Iraq and in beginning a transition in Afghanistan, with all NATO allies having agreed to stand-up a post withdrawal support plan. As President Obama told 60 Minutes, it was 'all a consequence of the great work that Hillary did and her team did and the State Department did in conjunction with our national security team.'" ("Attack: Hillary Clinton Had Few Achievements As Secretary Of State," Correct The Record, Accessed 7/6/16)

  • Correct The Record: Clinton Began "The Transition For The End Of The War In Afghanistan." "As America's top diplomat, she spearheaded progress on some of our country's most difficult national security challenges. President Obama credited her and the State Department with helping to bring an end to the war in Iraq and beginning the transition for the end of the war in Afghanistan." (Record Analyses, Correct The Record, Accessed 7/6/16)

The Obama Administration Has Touted Clinton's Role In Bringing The War In Afghanistan To A "Conclusion"

White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice Credited Hillary Clinton With Helping "To Bring To Conclusion Two Long And Costly Wars, In Iraq And Afghanistan." NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR, SUSAN RICE: "First of all, in the first term, we were able to bring to conclusion two long and costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And she was very much involved in supporting those transitions." (Bloomberg's " With All Due Respect," 6/18/15)

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