Just a short post in reference to the entire “will the troops definitely start withdrawing from Afghanistan and turning over control to Afgans in July 2011” question. Earlier today, after the media used the word unconditional, the Obama administration made it clear on Capital Hill the date was flexible, depending on conditions on the ground. Not so much now.This is a bit concerning. There seems to be a bit of a communication problem at the White House concerning the July 2011 date I mentioned in a previous post today. From Chip Reed’s Political Hotsheet at CBS News…
It was a point of contention at the White House briefing today – I asked White House spokesman Robert Gibbs if senators were incorrect calling the date a “target.”
After the briefing, Gibbs went to the president for clarification. Gibbs then called me to his office to relate what the president said. The president told him it IS locked in – there is no flexibility. Troops WILL start coming home in July 2011. Period. It’s etched in stone. Gibbs said he even had the chisel.
I’m wondering if General McChrystal – the guy who needs to make the airline return reservations – knows about the etched in stone date? From Reuters…
Asked if he backed Obama’s announcement that the troops would begin withdrawing in 18 months — a schedule criticized by U.S. Republicans as encouraging insurgents to wait out the clock — McChrystal said: “I am absolutely supportive of the timeline.”
“The 18-month timeline … is not absolute. It’s not an 18 months: everybody leaves. The president has expressed on numerous occasions a long-term strategic partnership with Afghanistan, and that includes all manners of assistance,” McChrystal said.
To be perfectly clear, Obama did not suggest the U.S. military pulls out in July 2011, it was to be the beginning of a withdrawal as Afghan troops became able to do more and more on their own with the support of tribal leaders and the people.
Earlier today, Defense Secretary Gates gave the clear impression the July 2011 date was flexible depending on conditions on the ground and they would evaluate those conditions in one year (Dec. 2010).
Hat tip to Allah at Hot Air.