The Conversation

Obama Says US Out of Afghanistan by Year's End

The last time Barack Obama went to Afghanistan it was under cover of darkness to deliver a PR speech fed back to America on the anniversary of the killing of Osama bin Laden. This year it may have been the scandal reverberating through his Veteran's Administration that forced his hand.

The trip, timed for Memorial Day weekend, was not announced before the president was on the ground at Bagram Air Base. This marks his fourth trip to the country, and first time there since 2012, when he came for just a few hours under cover of night to deliver a speech broadcast back home on the anniversary of the raid that killed Osama bin Laden.

The administration also seems a bit confused as to why it's even there. One spokesman says it's purely about thanking the troops, other sources say it was to include consultations before mapping out a way forward; yet, Obama announced his presumed way forward while there.

The contrast between these two passages below from a news report seems to make little sense.

The administration is “making some decisions about the future of our commitment to Afghanistan,” Rhodes said, adding that Obama wanted to get a briefing from his commander on the ground and ambassador first. Rhodes said that this trip was important “before he articulates a decision.”

On a surprise visit to Afghanistan on Sunday, President Barack Obama pledged “a responsible end” to American presence in the country, telling a rally of troops that combat operations would be fully over in the country by year’s end.


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