Thursday, 3 May 2012
It's What Politicians Don't Say That Matters
The British media are obsessed with the Olympics and News International they appear to have forgotten the UK is at war with another country.
Yesterday, In Kabul (pictured) President Obama signed an agreement with President Karzai to keep a major US military presence in Afghanistan (currently about three times its original size) through the end of 2014 and to allow a significant unspecified presence beyond that date, with no end date stipulated. He stressed that no permanent US bases would be involved, but his agreement requires Afghanistan to let US troops use 'Afghan' bases.
Earlier this week Obama spoke of a transition to Afghan control but we've heard that talk for years. We've heard it from No 10 too, but that's not surprising given that British PMs parrot instructions received from Washington.
Obama is promising to leave Afghanistan, but not yet. Except he isn't promising to ever leave at all. The agreement is open-ended. It says it enters into force when 'the Parties notify one another, though diplomatic channels, of the completion of their respective internal legal requirements'.
Obama, like Brown and now Cameron, said that he would withdraw troops at a steady pace and says that it will be the end of 2014, not when the last troops leave, but when a significant number of troops remain, as Afghans become 'fully responsible for the security of their country'. The troops are required in specific training roles and other miscellaneous projects.
Having read this agreement it is vague and unforgivable. David Cameron has tried - not at all successfully - to convince the British public that a only a small number of our armed services would be left in Afghanistan after 2014. He desperately wants to assure the electorate, before the next general election, that our troops will be brought home before they go to the polls. What he hasn't told us is that British troops may, very possibly, have a presence in Afghanistan for decades to come.
But we knew that didn't we?