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BLITZER’S BLOG: Getting out of Afghanistan – The withdrawal will begin
June 20th, 2011
02:01 PM ET

BLITZER’S BLOG: Getting out of Afghanistan – The withdrawal will begin

Washington (CNN) – President Obama has to announce in the coming days just how many U.S. troops will start leaving Afghanistan. Some 100,000 U.S. troops are currently there – joined by another 40,000 NATO forces. All U.S. troops are supposed to be out by the end of 2014 but some will start leaving in the coming months.

A few weeks ago, insiders had suggested to me that the president will settle on an initial pullout of 10,000 troops. Others now say it will be higher because of Osama bin Laden’s death and the staggering cost of maintaining troops there at a time of economic distress here at home.

It costs U.S. taxpayers about $120 billion a year to keep the troops in Afghanistan – that’s $10 billion a month. More and more politicians, Democrats and Republicans, are concluding that that money could be better spent at home.

Also increasing the pressure on President Obama to speed up the withdrawal are the shocking comments from Afghan President Hamid Karzai suggesting that U.S. troops are “occupiers.”

I know Vice President Joe Biden has been the most aggressive advocate inside the Obama Administration for accelerating the troop withdrawal. Biden's counterterrorism strategy in Afghanistan relies on far fewer boots on the ground.

But all along, he’s faced stiff resistance from outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Afghanistan commander Gen. David Petraeus, who’s slated to become the next CIA director.

My instinct tells me President Obama is inching closer and closer to the views of his vice president.

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soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. Mohammad

    Dear wolf,
    Let me tell that I am a proud U.S. citizen, just coming home on a vacation from Afghanistan.
    I have been on the ground and in contact with a lot of Afghan national locals, and as well as Afghan national army and Afghan national police officers.
    The situation I see in Afghanistan is very different from what I hear and see on cnn and news.
    I have a lot to say.
    I just say a few points and I am ready to argue with any source if they think I am wrong.
    1). Taliban have not been weakened. If they leave an area, it is not meaning they have been eliminated. If they are weakened why we want them to engage in peace talks. Or, why they are able to operate whenever they want, any where they want. Bagram Air Base, the largest military base is not safe,and there are attack on this base 3 times a week.
    2) Afghan national army and police, are not ready to defend the country for a day. They have been trained, but, you know for some reason they do not have the simplest weapons on hand, I met a major, he told if we have weapons, we do not need the help of other countries at all, we can get rid of Taliban with in months.* Afghan Air Force even does not have one fighter. How can they stand a day fight with only having a gun.
    3) Pakistan support for Taliban is at the top scale now. Day after day Pakistani ISI, produces new types of mines for blowing up our convoys.
    4) Government corruption: Karzai government with all corruption and money laundering god knows what has in mind. He says Afghan security forces are ready. I do not know which security forces he is talking about. He knows in the absence of our military forces there, he will not stand a day, that is why he is giving shocking speeches in which he calls Taliban " Dear Talib Brothers" and "innocent Taliban". Indeed he is looking for a future post in the government if Taliban takes over.
    As a proud citizen I am always sorry for the loss and sacrifices of our brave men and women serving our country down there.
    I want all the decissions to be taken based on honesty and telling the truth to our proud nation not for political gains.

    June 23, 2011 at 6:12 pm |
  2. Darryl Schmitz

    Representative Paul, it seems, was right. We are bankrupt, and maintaining the military world police force will make the coming collapse even more spectacular and devastating. What kind of void will THAT allow the despots and terrorists of the world to fill?

    June 20, 2011 at 9:52 pm |
  3. jjb

    When this war started myself and millions of other people said this war, and later Iraq, would be too costly in innocent lives and US dollars and would cause misery to millions of people. The other half of the population labeled us as non-patriotic and threatened us with disaster by color codes meanwhile stealing tax payer money through companies designed to wage war (regardless of who they wage war against, Erik Prince anyone?)
    I don't know what i'm trying to say but..

    June 20, 2011 at 7:40 pm |
  4. james Miller

    Get the H out. There is and always will be fearmongers of impending doom if we leave there. Especially mostly Repubs who have never served their country. -– The defense contractors have made billions since 2001 and weaning them will be most difficult. And politicians shudder to think their cash flow will slow down.

    June 20, 2011 at 7:18 pm |
  5. todd

    How is calling US forces occupiers ridiculous? Their efforts have been a massive backfire after 2002. You don't think the Taliban and Al Qaeda can function without some drug money and rocky dusty land? They can and have for over 8 years. We don't need to "send them back" if we take them out anymore than we need to send forces to Libya or Syria. Total baulderdash

    June 20, 2011 at 6:42 pm |
  6. Darrel

    I think Hell froze over. SInce the Republicans, are now stating that that money wasted on two fronts could be better spent at home, then Obama and the Democrats should take adavantage of the opportunity. Normally, Republicans are big on military spending while very short on domestic spending. We have so many issues in our country that need attention ranging from the decaying highway infrastructure to lack of jobs and the dwendling middle class. It's about time we put our country, it's people and it's needs first.

    June 20, 2011 at 3:57 pm |
  7. Four and The Door

    Just pull out whatever is necessary for political advantage. If it turns out that it's too many too soon, the ones there will certainly have a tough time of it all but we can send more back later. ( heavy on sarcasm).

    June 20, 2011 at 3:19 pm |
    • Paddy Singh

      Every problem for the Americans has always been one of political gain and personal interests. But in the end, neither wins. Did Tommy Franks study military history? He must have otherwise he would not have become a general. Didn't he read Alexander the Great's summing up of his Afghan campaign in 330BC? "Here the foe does not meet us in pitched battle, as other armies we have duelled in the past. . . . Even when we defeat him, he will not accept our dominion. He comes back again and again. He hates us with a passion whose depth is exceeded only by his patience and his capacity for suffering". Chenney was all for it because Halliburton would go on to make millions. The US citizens should make Bush, Chenney, Rumsfield etc pay back the trillions wasted from the American taxpayer by lying to them about these two wars. Osama could have been taken out on at least half a dozen occasions and saved the treasury this expense. But no one was interested.

      June 20, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
      • jjb

        very true

        June 20, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
      • tom

        horsesh*t, get off the blame game, try to understand all politicians are mortal and thus make mistakes. It is not a for profit military endeavor!!

        June 20, 2011 at 7:45 pm |
  8. A Kickin' Donkey

    This war was started in repsonse to the 9-11 attacks; that's what the politicians keep telling us. Take a step back and look at this from an altitude of 10,000 feet.

    1.) The mission was NEVER very well [under Bush] but the DEATH of 9-11 mastermind bin Laden represents a tangible accomplishment that can put an exclamation point of our involvement. America can legitamately claim Victory.

    2.) The war was ALWAYS an unfunded liability. Our budget deficit will be substantially reduced without the added expense of 150,000 troops in Afghanistan. The US Government can legitamately be fiscally responsible by ending this WAR now.

    On balance, those are two aspects that the public will view favorably.

    June 20, 2011 at 3:16 pm |
  9. carrotroot

    "My instinct tells me President Obama is inching closer and closer to the views of his Vice President" .... So you mean after 3 years of siding with Gates and Petraeus on all things Afghanistan, Obama is going to suddenly side with Biden?

    June 20, 2011 at 2:53 pm |

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