The United States’ announcement that it plans to end the combat role of its troops in Afghanistan earlier than expected, and before the end of next year, is a crucial milestone in the international forces’ retreat from the country. Coming after the French decision to go early, the US move looks like part of a panicky rush for the exit. More important, Afghans like to bet on winners, and the US action will convince many that these are increasingly likely to be the Taliban and Pakistan rather than the Afghan government. No wonder NATO officials looked so anxious as they pretended that the US action had not come as a nasty surprise.
The decision, revealed by the US Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, with deliberate casualness to journalists on his plane, is an admission of failure. The US has an army of 90,000 soldiers in Afghanistan and is spending $100 billion a year, but has still been unable to defeat 20,000-25,000 Taliban who receive no pay at all.
For more on this story, visit: How the War Was Lost » Counterpunch: Tells the Facts, Names the Names.