Moral Outrage
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‘Obama Sliding Time’ Table on Afghanistan Withdrawal

A day after replacing the top American general in Afghanistan, President Obama said that U.S. troops could remain in significant numbers in the country well after his withdrawal timeline begins next summer.

Though his plan calls for the start of a troop withdrawal in a year, “We did not say, starting in July 2011, suddenly there will be no troops from the United States or allied countries in Afghanistan,” Obama said at a joint White House press conference with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

“We didn’t say we’d be switching off the lights and closing the door behind us,” Obama said. “We said we’d begin a transition phase that would allow the Afghan government to take more and more responsibility.”

The answer was Obama’s clearest description of his timetable for bringing troops home from the war.

Obama’s answer seemed to run counter to the description of the Afghanistan troop-withdrawal timeline Vice President Joe Biden gave to author Jonathan Alter. In a recently-published book on Obama’s first year as president, Alter quotes Biden as saying, “in July of 2011, you’re going to see a whole lot of people moving out. Bet on it.” Biden’s office, however, has since downplayed the statement, saying Biden had made a hurried, off-hand remark.

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