Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The U.S. to Afghanistan: 'We Will Not Abandon You.'

One of those very rare occasions when the spin on the surface cannot conceal what lies beneath:

Yesterday, Mrs Clinton sought to play down fears of a precipitous exit that could serve as a rationale for unpalatable deals between Kabul and the Taleban, as Mr Karzai has previously threatened.

Mrs Clinton told Afghan and American Cabinet officials assembled at the State Department: “As we look towards a responsible orderly transition in the international combat mission in Afghanistan, we will not abandon the Afghan people. Our civilian commitment will remain long into the future.”

Polls released yesterday showed a slim majority of Americans think the war is no longer worth fighting, underlining the rationale for military withdrawal. A larger majority, however, still approve of Mr Obama’s handling of the war, from the impending military “surge” in Kandahar to the promise of a gradual withdrawal starting next year.

However, Afghan officials told The Times this week that Mr Karzai wanted a longer military commitment from Washington and was prepared to wield the threat of deals with the Taleban to get it.


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