Friday, March 11, 2011

Gates to U.S. Allies: Don't withdraw your troops, even though we're withdrawing ours

From the LA Times:

Gates warns U.S. allies about 'precipitous' exit from Afghanistan

Defense Secretary Robert Gates' discouraged European allies from pulling out large numbers of their troops as the U.S. begins a July drawdown:

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Friday warned allies against "ill-timed, precipitous or uncoordinated" drawdowns of their troops from Afghanistan that could harm gains made against Taliban militants.

Gates aimed to discourage allies in Europe from using the Obama administration's plans to withdraw some troops beginning in July as a pretext to bring out large numbers of their own forces.

The planned withdrawals [in July] are expected to be a small percentage of the overall U.S. force, but if allies with only a few thousand soldiers or fewer bring out similar numbers it could cause problems, officials said.

"Frankly, there is too much talk about leaving and not enough talk about getting the job done right," Gates said in remarks to defense ministers from the 47 other countries that have troops in Afghanistan...

"We will not sacrifice the significant gains made to date, or the lives lost, for a political gesture," he said. "In return, we expect the same from you," he told the other ministers.

Journalist Bob Woodward, in his 2010 book, Obama's Wars, quotes the President as saying at various White House meetings: "I have two years with the public on this [the war in Afghanistan]... I want an exit strategy. I can't let this be a war without end. I can't lose the whole Democratic Party."

Question: Did Mr. Gates, last year, convey to President Obama the same message that he delivered to the aforementioned ministers? Did he tell the President that "we will not sacrifice the significant gains made to date, or the lives lost, for a political gesture [to the Democratic Party]. In return," Mr. President, "we expect the same from you?"

Or, does Mr. Gates believe that what is good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander?


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