by James Glaser
December 7, 2009
It seemed very clear to me the other night when President Obama said that he would end his troop escalation in Afghanistan by mid 2011. I didn't hear any modifiers, like "maybe" or "about." His words were precise that this surge was going to last only 18 months.
Now we hear Secretary of Defense Robert Gates saying the very same troop withdrawal which the President said would start in July of 2011, will "probably" take two to three years. He went on to say, "There are no deadlines in terms of when our troops will be out."
Gates also said, "The pace and character of that draw-down, which districts and provinces are turned over and when, will be determined by conditions on the ground. It will be a gradual but inexorable process."
But that isn't what the President said. President Obama made it sound like we were sending in these 30,000 extra troops, and in 18 months they would be coming home. He never said anything about taking years to get those troops home, but Secretary Gates makes it sound like we will be sending home only about a bus load of troops every week.
When the President of the United States gets on television and talks to the nation about something as serious as war, we should expect that what he is telling us is the truthshould we not? We don't want it so we have to sit there and listen very carefully to see if he is inserting a word here or there so that later on he can say, "Well you weren't listening close enough to what I said."
Mr. President, give us the facts. Don't play word games.
BACK to the 2009 Politics Columns.