Rising tensions might move up withdrawal from Afghanistan

Megan Cloherty, wtop.com

WASHINGTON – Tensions are increasing between the United States and Afghanistan after a number of incidents, most recently the alleged massacre by a U.S. soldier of 16 Afghan civilians.

In response to the killings, Afghan President Hamid Karzai is demanding NATO pull out of the region and American troops be relegated to bases within the country.

President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron have responded to the increased tensions, agreeing that the timetable for withdrawing from Afghanistan has not changed.

Host of NBC’s “Meet the Press” David Gregory and host of CBS’ “Face the Nation” Bob Schieffer spoke with WTOP Friday morning about how the heightened stress on the Afghan-U.S. relationship will affect troop draw-down.

There is a dispute between the two countries as to whether the Afghan troops are in a position to secure their own country, according to Gregory. President Karzai is trying to make a strong case for U.S. withdrawal.

“I do think this is a really important moment,” Gregory said. “An awful incident like this massacre of civilians only highlights how difficult it is for our troops to be in this theatre for over a decade. It goes to the question of what are we accomplishing? What is the potential to accomplish the things we want to?”

WTOP’s Mike Moss raised the question of dwindling American support of the on-going war.

“You can’t be in war for over a decade and think the American people are going to hang tight with you,” Gregory responded. “Especially with facts like these, with a country as complex – culturally and ethnically and politically and militarily as Afghanistan. You keep coming back to the same fundamental question — if you win, what have you won?”

Schieffer agrees in his response to a similar question on WTOP: “There is not much constituency left in this country now for staying in Afghanistan for a long, long time and as people see these things like the massacre that has happened, the burning of the Koran, the Afghans saying they simply don’t want us there, it’s going to be difficult going through a campaign year for any candidate to argue that we ought to stay there.”

Schieffer spoke to the sentiments being expressed by candidates so far regarding troop draw-down.

“More and more and you’re seeing it out on the campaign trail. When you have Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich say, ‘This just isn’t working, it’s time to reevaluate,’ basically that is their message…I think this will go right into that,” Schieffer said. “I think you are, at the end of the day, going to see a faster withdrawal from Afghanistan.”

Follow WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up