President Obama finds himself in a delicate position when it comes to Afghanistan. He says we’ll definitely begin leaving in July 2011, but conditions on the ground will dictate what that withdrawal will look like and how long it will last. The vague timetable signals to war-weary Americans and congressional Democrats (and the responsibility-shirking Afghanistan government) that our commitment in Afghanistan is nearing an end, while also providing enough leeway to continue the war effort as long as Obama deems it necessary to complete the mission. The end result is that nobody really knows when we’re leaving for real. But during his confirmation hearing today a mere formality, obviously General David Petraeus added some clarity to the whole situation.
Referring to the July 2011 deadline, Petraeus said, “It was not just for domestic political purposes. It was also meant for audiences in Kabul, that we will not be there forever.” He quickly added, “But we will be there, presumably for quite some time.”
There you go: We will be there for a length of time somewhere between another year and forever, a duration known as “quite some time.” Now there is no ambiguity.