Obama Makes Surprise Visit To Afghanistan on Anniversary Of Bin Laden's Death
President Obama made a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of Osama Bin Laden's death and to sign agreements with the Afghan government that commits the US to withdrawing combat troops by 2014 but pledges continued political and military support for a decade, according to pooled press reports and early analysis by the Institute for Public Accuracy.
"The agreement actually allows for sustaining a 'post-conflict' force of 20,000 to 30,000 troops for a continued training of indigenous forces," said Jacob George, a veteran and now anti-war activist quoted by IPS. "They are pretending this is something new, but it's not. That's what I was doing in 2001 -- and 2002, 2003 and 2004. This is just disastrous, for ten years, with the greatest military the world has ever seen, we've been unable to defeat people with RPGs. And a year after Bin Laden was killed, we're still planning to keep tens of thousands of troops there."
The president will make a televised speech to the American public--at 7:30 PM EST on Tuesday night from Bagram Air base outside of Kabul--which is 4 AM local time. Earlier in the trip he held meetings with Afghan President Hamid Karzai at the presidential palace in Kabul, according to pooled press. He also is expected to speak to several thousand troops at the large US base before his televised address.
According to a Boston Globe report, Obama's visit is to sign a lengthy security pact that gives both nations political cover--Obama to say he is withdrawing combat troops and Afghan leaders demanding greater sovereignty. The visit coincides with the one-year anniversary of the death of Osama Bin Laden, who was killed by elite US forces in a hideout in neighboring Pakistan.
It also follows a speech on Monday by the Administration's top counterterrorism officer, John Brennan, where he laid out the legal and moral basis for unmanned drone attacks and said the administration needed to do a better job explaining its actions in the war on terrorism to the American people.