Obama and NATO Discuss Plans for Withdrawal from Afghanistan
A landmark NATO summit in Chicago has just endorsed an exit strategy that will call for handing control of Afghanistan to its own security forces by the middle of next year although questions about how to prevent a slide into chaos or a Taliban resurgence after allied troops have left remain unanswered.
The meeting which took place over two days is the mark of a major milestone in the war that began with the events of September 11 attacks and has spanned three US presidential terms.
Obama and NATO partners look to show their war weary voters that the end is in sight in Afghanistan – something that has strained the budgets of taxpayers across the country. They are also trying to reassure the Afghan community that they will not be abandoned either.
Obama told the summit “We are now unified behind a plan to responsibly wind down the war in Afghanistan. Are there risks involved? Absolutely.” Obama went on to say that the Taliban remained a robust enemy and NATO’s gains on the ground were fragile. Still he insisted the overall strategy which was sparse on specifics regarding the pace of withdrawal was sound. Even with NATO’s show of solidarity it cannot be denied that many differences still remain despite almost 11 years of military engagement that has not succeeded to defeat the Taliban Islamists.
This statement deems this decision as irreversible and a transition to full security responsibility for fledging Afghan troops and that NATO’s mission in 2014 would turn into one of training and advisory, saying that “this will not be a combat mission.”
Many people still have doubts though whether or not Afghan forces will be able to stand up to a Taliban insurgency that is still quite strong. Others worry about Pres. Hamid Karzai’s government, which has a reputation for rampant corruption, and whether or not it will be up to the task of protecting the citizens of Afghanistan.