• Obama’s Failure To Leave Afghanistan Draws Immediate Criticism

    The White House is trying to spin Obama’s decision to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan through the end of his term as a good sign, but critics almost immediately called him out for leaving his successor with the same messes he inherited and promised to fix.

    “Obama saw his mandate as getting US out of Iraq, Afghanistan,” Foreign Policy editor David Rothkopf tweeted Thursday. “Now clear he will leave both as top challenges for his successor.”

    “Pledging To End Two Wars, Obama Finds Himself Entangled In Three,” reads an NPR headline.

    Added Washington Post fact checker John Nolte: “Remember when Romney said Putin was a top threat [and] we’d stay in Afghanistan after 2016… And OUR USELESS CORRUPT MEDIA LAUGHED AT HIM?”

    Obama promised to bring U.S. troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq as president, and had planned to withdraw almost all of the remaining troops in Afghanistan when he leaves office. But he announced a halt to the planned withdrawal Thursday, saying he’ll keep 5,500 troops in Afghanistan.

    The reversal follows a wave of violence, including a temporary takeover of Kunduz by the Taliban last month, and growing concern from Obama’s top advisers and military commanders that Afghanistan can’t yet fend for itself.

    Top military officials protested Obama’s 2009 decision to set a timetable for withdrawal from Afghanistan, including the top Afghanistan commander he later fired, Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

    “This decision is not disappointing,” Obama said in a press conference Thursday, and White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters later it’s a sign of “progress,” and that Obama’s strategy is “working” in Afghanistan.

    But he’ll leave successor with exactly the type of ongoing conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria he promised to fix and avoid.

    “Together with our allies, we will complete our mission [in Afghanistan] by the end of this year, and America’s longest war will finally be over,” Obama said in his January, 2014, State of the Union address.

    “It’s not Obama’s fault he couldn’t end the war in Afghanistan,” tweeted Bloomberg analyst Josh Rogin. “But he shouldn’t have promised to do it in the first place.”

    Rothkopf also placed some of the blame for the mess that remains in Afghanistan on former President George W. Bush, but called Obama’s decision to continue his strategy of training local forces there “at best folly,” in light of the mass of evidence at the time it wouldn’t work.

    “Probably, it was worse than [folly]: bordering on deeply intellectually dishonest,” Rothkopf wrote in Foreign Policy Thursday. “It was an approach based largely on denial and self-deception. Now it is clear, it has not only failed — it has done so catastrophically.”

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