Despite repeated statements from the Obama administration that its preferred planned is for a large residual military force and operations footprint inside Afghanistan that extends well beyond 2014, the president formally ordered the Pentagon on Tuesday to draw up plans for a full and complete withdrawal of all U.S. forces by the end of the year—the so-called ‘zero option.’
Though treated like a threat and something that would be terrible for both U.S. interests and the Afghan people by many in the Washington establishment, the reality is that preparations for a coordinated and full withdrawal is exactly what the global anti-war movement and those who support Afghan sovereignty have been calling for since the country was first invaded by the U.S. and NATO more than a dozen years ago.
Obama’s move was leaked to the press following a phone call between Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai earlier on Tuesday in which the two leaders discussed the ongoing reluctance of Karzai to sign a bilateral security agreement (BSA) put forth by the White House.
Karzai has repeatedly rebuffed pressure from the US and NATO to sign the BSA, saying he wants to wait until after upcoming presidential elections in the country before committing to additional years of having foreign troops in the country, maintaining bases, and launching military operations within and across its borders.
As the Guardian reports:
According to foreign policy analyst Phyllis Bennis, a senior fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, the focus on U.S. interests in repeated statements by Pentagon officials and Obama himself reveals how shallow the rhetoric has been when the U.S. tries to say that the continued presence of U.S. troops is for the good of the Afghan people.
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While rejecting Obama’s argument that keeping troops in Afghanistan will somehow keep Americans more safe from future terrorist attacks, Bennis supports the idea of a full and complete U.S. withdrawal. As she wrote recently: