Top Talker: What’s the future for U.S. troops in Afghanistan?


President Obama says he will soon be making an announcement about the number of troops he plans to withdraw from Afghanistan. After meeting with his national security team yesterday, the President said that the U.S. has already accomplished large parts of its mission in the region. Obama said, “By us killing Osama bin Laden, getting Al Qaeda back on its heels, stabilizing much of the country in Afghanistan so that the Taliban can’t take it over. It’s not time for us to recognize that we’ve accomplished a big chunk of our mission and that it’s time for the Afghans to take more responsibility.”

Despite the success the president says forces have made so far, America’s top two military commanders, General David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates, won’t exactly commit to answering whether the U.S. is winning the war. Petraeus said, “We’re making progress. They’ll try to come back though. That’s why we say these gains, while significant are fragile.” Gates said, “We have not had a declared victory in a war with the possible exception of the first World War since World War Two. It is a phenomenon of modern conflict. Are the American people safer because of the sacrifice these soldiers have made? That’s the real question.”

Gates ended his farewell tour in Afghanistan yesterday by telling U.S. and international forces that are on track to delivering a decisive blow against the Taliban. He’s now in Brussels for NATO meetings on the way forward in Afghanistan and Libya.

It all comes as the latest Washington Post-ABC News poll shows 43% of Americans now say that the Afghan war is worth fighting, compared with 31% in March. However, nearly 3 in 4 Americans say that the U.S. should still remove a substantial number of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan this summer.

Update: On Morning Joe this morning, Michael Steele says the president is caught in a political vortex.

Michael Steele, Msnbc analyst: “Where the president finds himself now is caught between his generals and the people. And there’s this overwhelming sense – as the polls are showing – that the people are less interested with having our men and women stay there. So he’s kind of caught in this political vortex of trying to balance these two competing worlds right now.”


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Top Talker: What's the future for U.S. troops in Afghanistan?