President Obama finally admitted that his plan to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan was not feasible, admitting that if the United States left the region, it would lead to greater instability in the country.
During a speech at the White House today, Obama announced that he would cancel his plans to drop down to an embassy-level presence of about 1,000 troops and would instead leave 9,800 troops in the region through 2015 with plans to go down to 5,500 troops after 2016.
“This decision’s not disappointing,” he insisted to reporters after his announcement, saying Afghanistan is still a willing partner with the United States to keep Al-Qaeda and the Taliban from reasserting themselves in the region. “I’m absolutely confident this is the right thing to do,” he added.
Obama admitted that the final decision to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan would not be his, after repeatedly vowing to do so throughout his presidency.
“I suspect that we will continue to evaluate this going forward, as will the next president,” he said.
Obama’s announcement was a stark departure from his positive outlook on the success in Afghanistan during his presidency. Prior to the 2012 election, Obama proudly declared the the U.S. was winning the conflict, and focused his efforts on drawing down troops.
“The war in Afghanistan is ending. Al Qaeda is on the run. Osama bin Laden is dead,” Mr. Obama said Nov. 5, 2012.
Obama’s mood today was much more serious, placing emphasis on the importance of not abandoning the region to resurgent terrorist threats.
“As you are well aware, I do not support the idea of endless war,” he said, adding that he was “firmly convinced” that it was worth remaining in the region to make sure it did not sink into chaos.