Obama said the Nato summit was about "painting a vision, post-2014, in which we have ended our combat role, the Afghan war as we understand it is over, but our commitment to friendship and partnership with Afghanistan continues." He added: "Both of us recognise that we still have a lot of work to do. The loss of life continues in Afghanistan. There will be hard days ahead, but we're confident that we're on the right track."
The president promised not to keep troops in harm's way "a single day longer than is absolutely required for our national security," but promised to "finish the job" and "end this war responsibly." Obama spoke of a "negotiated peace," and said his administration has been in direct talks with the Taliban. "We've made it clear that they can be a part of this future if they break with al Qaeda, renounce violence, and abide by Afghan laws," he said.
“We will not build permanent bases in this country, nor will we be patrolling in cities and mountains,” Obama said. “That will be the job of the Afghan people.”
“Our goal is not to build a country in America’s image,” he said in his talk from Bagram Air Base, “or to eradicate every vestige of the Taliban. . . . Our goal is to destroy Al Qaeda, and we are on a path to do exactly that.”
Obama — a war president with an anti-war base — finds himself in an odd, paradoxical position as he hashes out the complex details on an Afghanistan endgame with 27 of his NATO allies, including France, which has accelerated its own withdrawal from the war-wracked country.
The President announced that the United States will withdraw 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan by the end of the year, and that the 33,000 “surge” troops he approved in December 2009 will leave Afghanistan by the summer of 2012.
In his first year in office, Mr. Obama’s thinking about what he once called “a war of necessity” began to radically change. He concluded that the Bush-era dream of remaking Afghanistan was a fantasy, and that the far greater threat to the United States was an unstable, nuclear-armed Pakistan. So he narrowed the goals in Afghanistan, and narrowed them again, until he could make the case that America had achieved limited objectives in a war that was, in any traditional sense, unwinnable.
The Obama administration will ask Congress to sustain U.S. assistance for Afghanistan near the average amount it has been over the last decade through 2017 as part of the international effort to stabilize the country even as most international forces pull out over the next two years. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made the pledge Sunday as some 70 countries gathered in Tokyo to announce a four-year civilian assistance plan. Altogether they are promising to give $16 billion to Afghanistan through 2015.
US president Barack Obama declared on Monday that he was sticking to his war strategy of using US troops to advise and mentor Afghan forces, despite a growing number of Afghan military attacks on foreign troops.
Asserting that the United States had largely achieved its military goals, Mr. Obama said that Afghans were ready to take responsibility for their own security, a transition that will start in earnest next year when American and NATO troops step back from a combat role to training and counterterrorism operations.