With Russia making great efforts to dominate the Middle East, U.S. President Barack Obama has recently announced his intention to abandon the plan to withdraw nearly all U.S. troops from Afghanistan.
Such a move from Mr. Obama has sparked quite a stir in the media and the Internet: what is really going on here? With the President all of a sudden announcing to keep American people in Afghanistan after he had announced that the war started by George W. Bush is finally over, many political experts suspect that we are kept in the dark about the true intentions of such a sudden decision.
“While America’s combat mission in Afghanistan may be over, our commitment to Afghanistan and its people endures,” Obama said while announcing his intention to keep a force of 9,800 in the country for the larger part of next year, and a contingent of 5,500 for 2017, the year he leaves office.
This is the same Obama that had planned to reduce the number of American troops in Afghanistan to around 1,000. Now, apparently, U.S. soldiers still have to risk their lives in the “narrow but critical missions” of counter-terrorism operations as well as the ongoing military training of Afghan security forces in a conflict in which U.S. combat “officially ended” last year, but where fighting continues and unrest still rages.
The announcement comes two weeks after a U.S. AC-130 gunship bombed a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing at least 22 people.
With the media focused on the hospital bombings, there have been recent reports that a vehicle containing U.S. personnel “destroyed potential evidence” last week by forcing its way onto the ruined site of the hospital in Afghanistan.
There’s an ongoing investigation into the bombing, but many political experts already have a list of questions to Washington regarding its involvement in the incident.
Staying in Afghanistan to make U.S. look tougher and stronger
The decision to abandon the withdrawal of nearly all U.S. troops from Afghanistan might have something to do with the situation in Syria and Russian President Vladimir Putin clinging onto the influence over the Middle East.
Mr. Obama might suddenly realized that the U.S. can’t get out of Afghanistan in order to strengthen its international role. Russian airstrikes in Syria have seriously damaged Mr. Obama’s geopolitical image and made him look weak in the eyes of his regional allies and enemies.
So what, do American troops have to stay in Afghanistan in order to make the U.S. look tougher and stronger than it really is?
The bombing of the hospital in Afghanistan, Russian airstrikes in Syria, and now the decision to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan comes as Mr. Obama comes under attack for what many see as a failed foreign policy.
Entering his final year in office, Mr. Obama had a choice to either stick to his promise and bring home almost all American troops from Afghanistan next year or still leave a significant amount of U.S. troops to strengthen the U.S. geopolitical image and prevent Afghanistan’s military forces from collapsing under the growing Taliban pressure.
Mr. Obama had originally planned to leave no more than 1,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, mostly for embassy protection and other security duties, by the end of his presidency in January 2017.
True intentions behind Obama’s decision
So what keeps U.S. troops in Afghanistan, exactly? Apparently, two reasons that we are aware of. But there could be thousands of more reasons behind the curtains.
Mr. Obama’s decision to keep at least some American troops in Afghanistan means that the U.S. wants to maintain a powerful influence within the war-torn country. With the help of smaller but elite forces, the U.S. continues fighting when necessary to protect U.S. interests in the region.
How could those U.S. interests be put on the line? For example, participating in a large-scale armed conflict among military forces that have been rivaling for power in Afghanistan since the mid-1990s, including the Taliban, which held power for 5 years before the U.S. invasion in 2001.
The second reason is that Afghanistan is a crucial strategic geopolitical asset for the U.S., especially at a time when Vladimir Putin is trying to push the U.S. out of the Middle East.
Many experts note the fact that every time the Democrats hold debates, they contest over who is going to pull U.S. troops out of a number of hot spots the fastest. And it seems true judging by the recent debates earlier this week, when the Democrats claimed that there will be no more wars and the U.S. will never get involved in any regional conflicts.
Donald Trump, a GOP presidential candidate with the highest chances to win in 2016, according to a number of polls, said he believes that invading Afghanistan in 2001 was a “terrible mistake,” but he still thinks that U.S. troops need to stay in order to prevent a collapse of the Afghan government.
As many as 75 percent of American people oppose keeping U.S. military troops in Afghanistan, according to the CNN/ORC International survey released on December 30, 2013. Meanwhile only 14 percent of Americans believe the U.S. has won the 12-year-long war in Afghanistan, according to a YouGov poll released earlier this year.
The CNN/ORC poll also found that just 17 percent of those questioned said they support the ongoing war, down from 52% in December 2008, while as many as 82 percent of Americans oppose the conflict, up from 46% five years ago.