Thursday, December 3, 2009

Is The Afghanistan Withdrawal Date Flexible or Set in Stone? Both?!?

The question comes from Obama's speech at West Point on the future of the war in Afghanistan. I criticzed Obama for setting a withdrawal date while acknowledging that he appeared to leave himself a bit of wiggle room. There is some question now as to if Obama gave himself some wiggle room or not. The answer seems to be both yes and no; obviously that does not make any sense. In the end it may not matter much. The ambiguity comes off as the Obama administration trying to please diametrically opposed camps/positions at the same time, but it also means that there is nothing preventing Obama from ignoring the deadline.

"From a new item up at CBS:

After the briefing, Gibbs went to the president for clarification. Gibbs then called me to his office to relate what the president said. The president told him it IS locked in – there is no flexibility. Troops WILL start coming home in July 2011. Period. It's etched in stone. Gibbs said he even had the chisel.

Back to an item I posted earlier via CongressDaily. McCain was challenging Obama on the very same point.

These sources said the president responded to McCain by promising that the withdrawal would be based on conditions on the ground.

Talk about trying to please eveyone while having it both ways."

"McChrystal’s take on the timeline is more ambiguous than I thought. So here’s how my scoreboard looks right now. The One says withdrawal will begin in July 2011 no matter what; Gates says we’re striving hard to have it begin in July 2011 but ultimately it’ll depend on conditions circa December 2010; and McChrystal’s read on it is TBD. That leaves Hillary, who I think is in the Gates camp — but frankly, at this point, I’m not sure they’re being consistent even in their own statements."

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