Specter of Benghazi attack drives U.S.-Afghanistan talks
WASHINGTON — The attacks on a U.S. missions in Libya last year has become a factor driving the White House decision on how large a force to leave in Afghanistan after 2014 — and a specter hanging over talks between the Afghan president and the United States.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has publicly called for a near-total drawdown of U.S. forces, with a surge of American and international aid to make up for their exit.
After losing a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, Libya, U.S. officials insist they need enough troops to protect their diplomats, and the legal authority to target those who might come after them, a senior official said.
The State Department wants five diplomatic posts in Afghanistan, but federal planners are weighing every potential post against how many troops would be needed to guard it and, if need be, get personnel out, said one current and one former U.S. government official. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the White House deliberations publicly.
The Obama administration does not want to risk another Benghazi, the senior official said, where diplomatic posts are only lightly guarded by American contractors and local forces and the host country can deny the United States the right to send in troops.
The Libyans denied special ops teams entry to hunt al-Qaida-linked militants suspected in the killings of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans on Sept. 11, 2012.
The same security concerns apply to U.S. drone bases used to launch attacks against al-Qaida targets next door in Pakistan.
“If the mission is to defeat al-Qaida, then you need a base to operate from, and Afghanistan is the only place to do that,” said former CIA officer Bruce Riedel, who advised the Obama administration on its Afghan war strategy. “Where Benghazi comes in is: Do we want to rely on Afghan security or a contractor or on U.S. Marines to protect a drone base?”
Pentagon calculations call for roughly three to five troops to guard each U.S. civilian in a conflict zone like Afghanistan. Without sufficient numbers of troops, the United States will have to curtail its diplomatic mission, the senior government official said, which could spell reduced aid and support to Afghanistan.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Clinton: Women ‘expect’ extremism from terrorists, not GOP candidates
- People who knew Virginia TV station shooter Flanagan recall his quick temper
- Ex-crime lab chief: Illegal’s fatal shot in San Francisco likely accidental
- Planned Parenthood alleges ‘smear’ campaign in letter to top lawmakers
- 13 states spared EPA regulation of waterways
- Bison gores worker on California’s Catalina Island
- Compatibility of 1st-responder radios in doubt
- Obama marks Hurricane Katrina anniversary in New Orleans visit
- US economy surged at 3.7 percent rate in April-June quarter
- Virginia reporter, cameraman killed on air; gunman also dies
- Mormons to maintain association with Boy Scouts