Afghan reaction to details of U.S. troop drawdown is mixed
KABUL, Afghanistan — President Obama's decision to bring half of America's 66,000 troops home within a year was welcomed on Wednesday by Afghan officials who have long agitated to control their country, but was greeted with dismay by Afghans who think America failed to keep its promise of a better and safer life.
A troop drawdown was widely expected, but for the first time, Obama gave specific numbers. For some Afghans, Obama's State of the Union address on Tuesday underscored the reality that foreign troops were indeed leaving — and sooner than expected.
Afghan President Hamid Karzai viewed the announcement as good news. He has pushed for a faster withdrawal of international troops, arguing that his country is sovereign and should control its own fate.
He persuaded NATO to agree on a 2014 deadline for the departure of foreign combat troops just over two years ago. He and Obama agreed last month for Afghan troops to take the lead for security around the country this spring — months ahead of schedule — as foreign forces take the backseat and shift to an advisory and training role.
“This is something Afghanistan has wanted for so long now,” Karzai's office said.
He applauded Obama's commitment to speed up the timetable for handing over the lead for security to Afghan forces. “The withdrawal in the spring of foreign forces from Afghan villages will definitely help in ensuring peace and full security in Afghanistan.”
Obama said the first 34,000 troops will leave Afghanistan within a year.
So far, no decision has been made about how many U.S. troops could remain in the country after December 2014 when most foreign forces will have left. Administration officials have said they are considering a residual troop presence of as few as 3,000 and as many as 15,000.
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 â 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.